Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-First Sunday of the Year (A) (27th August, 2017) on the Gospel

Is 22:19-23;

Ps 137:1-3.6.8. (R.v. 8);
Rom 11:33-36;
Matt 16:13-20.

There is a story about an irreligious farmer in one of our western states, who gloried in his irreligion, and he wrote a letter to a local newspaper in these words: “Sir, I have been trying an experiment with a field of mine. I prowled it on Sunday. I planted it on Sunday. I cultivated it on Sunday. I harvested it on Sunday. I carted the crop home to the barn on Sunday. And now, Mr Editor, what is the result? This October I have more bushels to the acre from the field than any of my neighbours have”. He was expecting applause from the editor who was not known to be religious man himself. When the irreligious farmer opened the next publication of the paper, there was his letter printed just as he had sent it, but underneath it was the short but significant sentence: “God does not always settle accounts in October.”[1]
Topic: The District of Caesarea Philippi.
At the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Their answers include John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Beyond what others said, Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” It was Simon Peter who declared “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Matt 16:17).
Peter could have bragged himself as the only person who could declare correctly that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. However, Jesus’ reply made him to understand that It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD of hosts, cf. Zech 4:6. Hence Jesus cautions, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
Jesus was not satisfied with what others said about Him at the district of Caesarea Philippi. He demanded from His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”
We have heard a lot of what others said about God. Beyond all these, God demands of us our personal declarations. Saint Paul wrote that “...faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:17). These things are not faith. Our lives as Christians can be compared with our biological lives. There are changes expected of each and every one of us at different points. Saint Paul has this to say about his own spiritual life, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1Cor 13:11). Every good thing others say about God is invitation to come closer to God. Using the words of the Psalmist, they are invitations to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8).
Those challenging periods in our lives, can be better seen as our own ‘district of Caesarea Philippi’ where Jesus is asking each and every one of us, “...who do you say that I am?” The decisions and steps we take have a lot to say with regard to who we say Jesus Christ is. Jesus is not Lord only when things move as one wants. Hence, Job rightly asked, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). In all situations, God is still God, Jesus is Lord. Remember always that, “… all things are from God” (1Cor 11:12).
Unlike the irreligious farmer in our introductory story who could not positively consider why it was his own parcel of land that did better than others. Whatever one can achieve is made possible by God. It is “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2Cor 3:5). Wait on God for He does not always settle accounts when we expect it. Our lives as Christians should be that of testimony to the goodness of God.
Bible Reading: 1Cor 4:1-13; Lk 12:13-21; Ps 139.
Thought for today: To whom do you attribute your successes in life – self, someone, God or …?
Let us pray: Let us pray: Lord may we always see you at work in every achievement you accomplished in our lives and give you the glory – Amen.
You are free to share this reflection with others if you consider it worthy.

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[1] Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 44.

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