HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: YOU ARE PETER, AND ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
BY: Fr. Cosmas Ukadike
God’s word today presents us with the handing on of power and authority which stems from Christ the head, to his body the church, in an apostolic succession.
Jesus has always been known as the rock of ages and our everlasting rock (Cf Isa 26, 4). In the book of Psalms he is addressed as: “My only Rock and my salvation, my stronghold…” (62, 2) and in the prophecy of Isaiah it is said of him:
Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed (28, 16).
And speaking directly about himself Jesus said: Did you not read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone (Matt 21, 42).
Today in the Gospel we hear Jesus handing on the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Simon whom he now named “Peter”, Rock, (Matt 16, 17) so that as the vicar of Christ and standing on the everlasting Rock, Jesus himself, he may lead the people of God passing through the church as the earthly kingdom into the heavenly kingdom, which is our homeland.
Jesus founded his church in order to continue His mission of bringing souls back to God. Since his stay as a man on earth was meant to be short, he called to himself men whom he named Apostles to continue this mission. And at any given time one amongst these men is empowered to stand as the Vicar of Christ like Peter was chosen, “not by flesh and blood but by the Father in heaven” (Matt 16, 17).
Thus, Jesus the Rock who came to serve his brothers and lead them back to God is today giving the mandate of his office of service to his church through Peter, the first Pope. And this is why the Pope is addressed as Servus Servorum Dei, that is, servant of the servants of God. It therefore means that, all church leaders, from the Pope to the youth presidents in the church are called to lead by way of serving their brothers and sisters.
And because the church stands forever on the Rock that never fails, Jesus assures Peter and the whole people of God that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (Matt 16, 18ff). Like St Vincent de Paul would always insist, “Let Jesus be the rule of our lives and the rule of the mission”.
Peter today acknowledged Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Who then is Jesus for you? We pray that Jesus remains for each and every one of us the messiah and the God who is ever alive in our world; guiding our steps. May Jesus, the Rock of our salvation strengthen us today and always.
Have a blessed week.