August 23, 2020 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082320.cfm)
How are you holding on these days? We are now already almost fast approaching the sixth month of living life in pandemic times. We already have gone through a lot and still going through a lot these days. Things seem to be getting worse than getting better. Perhaps at this stage most of us (if not all) have experienced and still grieving over some loss of someone and/or something important in ones life – be it a beloved family and friends, work, opportunities, and/or lifestyle. And we cannot help but ponder about what all these happenings now mean and got to do with our life and faith.
“Your decision today is the statement of who you are and declaration of who you choose to be”, said Neal Donald Walsch in his book Conversation with God. True indeed for experience teaches us that whatever our decisions-made somehow and someway reflect our own identity, our own responsibility and even our faith (of what we believe) as well.
For instance, whenever a young couple decides to commit into Christian married life through the Sacrament of Matrimony, both of them receives a new identity and responsibility as follower of Christ in life and faith. In their exchange of marital vows before God’s altar they become not anymore just any other couple but now a Christian married couple forever in life. They remain not anymore as children of their parents but now as Christian husband and wife for life. Through their exchange of vows before God and His Church, their love for each other and their following of Jesus now becomes a Sacrament – sign and instruments of God’s continuing love and presence in our own lives. As they decide and resolve to live life in Christian marriage, the couple’s life now is and will never be the same as before but is now of God, and for God’s grace in life.
In our gospel today, as he asked his disciple “who do you say I am”, Jesus did not ask just to test them or to probe what others say of Him. Jesus is basically asking: “who am I to you? – inviting them to make a decision for Him – an option in favor of Jesus. He wants them to make a proclamation of their faith in Jesus into their own lives. And as we have heard, Peter professed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. And because of this, Simon receives a new identity and responsibility in life and faith. Before he was just Simon, son of Jonah, but now he is Peter “the rock” as foundation stone of the church and the key bearer of God’s kingdom in heaven.
Like Eliakim in our first reading, because of his faith in Jesus as Christ, Peter now is entrusted, blessed and given the authority and power in the church by Jesus. Through his witness of his faith in Jesus, the life of Peter and our lives now changed for the better – not anymore as before but now as life in Jesus, with Jesus and for Jesus.
Until now, perhaps especially now during pandemic times, Jesus is asking us the same question: “Who am I to you?” Ho me 2 U? Again this is not to test us or survey opinions of Him or to parrot what others taught us about Him, but a challenge to make a decision – a stance for Him. Meaning: Is Jesus your beloved whom you promise to live life with OR is He but just your convenient partner who comes handy when needed? Are all things from Him, through Him & for Him to you? Our response is our proclamation of our faith, and statement of our identity and a declaration of our responsibility in life. Like Peter then and us today’s Christians, our life-options/ decisions for Jesus Christ, (limited & imperfect it maybe) is our proclamation and witness of our faith that make and build us as Church – a sacrament of God’s continuing blessings and grace.
Remember then how blessed are you Christian married couples. Blessed are you not only because through your marriage, your heritage and bloodlines lives on, but also through your marriage – lived for the sake of Christ, God continues to make miracles in our lives today. Forget not what the evangelist John told us, the first miracle-performed by the Lord Jesus happened during the wedding in Cana. Meaning, through marital vows and married life – imperfect or lacking it may be, the Lord began and will continue to produce miracles – continually partaking God’s blessing to us. That’s how blessed and fortunate you are now Christian married couples.
The faith of Peter gains him a new identity and responsibility in life and in God’s glory and graces. Our life-decisions and options for Christ ensure us a definite identity, dignity and responsibility in life as Christian, and offer us a blessed and promising life now and in God’s glory. That is why Your decision today is a statement of your identity, a declaration of your responsibility in life, and a proclamation of faith. In other words, remember always that whatever our decision today reflect who we are now, who we choose to be, and what we believe.
While always hoping for the better, holding on as things get worse these days, may we not lose track, but instead be steadfast of our basic identity, responsibility and faith before God and others, so that we may be guided now with whatever decisions we have to make ahead. Amen.
By Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR (a former Filipino Redemptorist Missionary for Filipino Migrants in South Korea who, due to immune compromised diabetic condition, stationed back home in the Philippines for now).