BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: * Is 22 : 19 – 23, Rom 11 : 33 – 36, Matt 16 : 13 – 20.

Every Christian organization is not a Church and every Church organization is not a Church of Christ. A Christian Church is an organization of believers established by Christ and handed over to St Peter who was the first Bishop of Rome. A Church is not a private limited liability company. It is not a gospel business. It is not a personal establishment. The Bible lets us know that in the oganigram of the priesthood of Christ, ‘no one takes this honour upon himself ; it needs a call from God as in Aaron’ s case ‘, Heb 5 : 4.

Today’s 1st and 3rd readings confirm the power of the keys from which the Church of Christ operates. Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophesy : ‘I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder’ by confering this power on St Peter : ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’.
What is essential about every authority is its source. If the one who gives a Church leader his /her authority is Christ himself, then the foundation is spiritual and strong like a rock but if it is human, the foundation is shaky and dicey.

Belief in Christ as the Son of God (redeemer) is the fundamental faith that Christ saw in Peter and ordained him as the first Pope and gave the same power to his successors, Matt 28 : 20. Christ’s question was bifocal ; He ascertained both their general and individual knowledge of him. Although personal knowledge/experience of Christ is more important in spirituality than community knowledge but this personal experience must conform with the community /ecclesial experience of Christ.
During these 3 years of hearing Jesus preach, seeing evidence of his power through signs and wonders (especially special miracles shown only to the mega apostles) like the theophanic experience of the transfiguration, Peter came to a strong conviction that Christ was no ordinary man – He was the Son of God and the Messiah foretold by the scriptures. But sooner or later, this faith had to be fine tuned. Peter had to learn that Christ was not a political Messiah, nor a cross – less Messiah, nor a prosperity giver. Christ called him ‘Satan’ as long as he held a wrong view of his messiahship until he was made to understand his proper mission.
This is actually why a lot of Christian Churches and missions today have turned Satanic. The gospel of Christ minus the sacrifice of the Cross always turns Satanic, materialistic, hypocritical, magical and fake. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians that ‘while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, we are preaching a crucified Christ…’, 1 Cor 1 : 22. Take a look at how the following 10 classes of people erroneously perceive Christ ;
(i) The Rationalists see Christ merely as one of the wisest men that existed on earth . Eckists, Rosicrutians and Cross bearers see him as one of the avatars /grandmasters with extrasensory perceptions.
(ii) Empiricists see him as a mere man and nothing more. They don’t believe that he rose from the dead (eg the Saducees).
(iii) Judaists and traditionalists (neopaganists) see him as an impostor and claimer. While the Judaist Jews are still waiting for the promised Messiah, African traditionalists, (ATR) for instance, are still worshipping the god of their ancestors and wanting to fashion a pagan version/ image of pastors and priests.
(iv) Socialists and Communists see him as a social worker and a liberator of the poor masses.
(v) Moralists see him merely as a great moral teacher.
(vi) Pacifists see him as a proponent of peace and conflict resolution, for example Mahatma Ghandi of India so much loved the Sermon on the Mountain but was not a Christian.
(vii) Millenists see him as the avatar of the present age who must triumph over the “Antichrist” and nothing more.
(viii) Scientists see him as a spiritual healer who applied some hypothetical means in curing people’s diseases.
(ix) Exorcists see him as a powerful man who exercised great spiritual authority in casting out demons.
(x) Pentecostals /Prosperity preachers see him as a wonder worker and a wealth giver.
But true believers see him as the Saviour of the world – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Jn 1 : 29.
The Word of God is not subject to individual /selfish interpretation, 2 Pet 1 : 20 but must be interpreted by the official teaching magisterium of Christ’s Church. The Church is sustained by the Eucharist while the Eucharistic celebration remains the sign of the unity of the Church under one head, Jn 17 : 21, Eph 4 : 5 doing the same old things he said we should do in memory of him, Lk 20 : 22. The Church of Christ must be built upon the solid foundation of Christ himself distinguished in the parable of the sower between the seeds that fell on the wayside, rocky ground, thorny ground and fertile ground, Matt 13 : 1 – 13.

We need to ask ourselves 2 fundamental questions today : (i) WHO DO I THINK THAT JESUS IS? and how far is my personal answer to the ecclesial answer?
Take note of the following Anti Christ values bedeviling the present day Society ; Anti marriage values (promiscuity, abortion, contraceptives, homosexuality,d
issolubity of marriage), Anti educational values (Expo, IMM – Ima onye ma mmadu in employment at Universities and Other Institutions ), Anti morality values (indecent dressing, sexual immorality, bribery and corruption), Anti clericalism (hatred for Priests and Religious, struggle for Church lands and property, robbery, attack /kidnapping of priests), Clericalism (abuse of priestly powers, exploitation of gullible Christians by priests and pastors, neglect of the laity) and neopaganist values ( seeing demons everywhere as causes of every set back)
* Story of a young lady of 23 whose mum took to a pastor for deliverance from spiritual husband and marine queensheep and how they stripped her naked in the cold night and bathed her with cold anointing water and rubbed olive oil around her whole body including her v areas.
We must continue to combine our personal encounter /experience of Jesus with the ecclesial experience. Going solo is dangerous while following the crowd sheepishly is even more dangerous.

The final question we must ask ourselves in today’s message is : ARE WE FOLLOWING A MATERIAL OR SPIRITUAL SAVIOUR? It is very difficult to answer this question because we are always deceived by the duality of purpose in the Christian mission. Yet Christ did not mince words when he said : ‘Seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and every other things shall be added unto us’, Matt 6 :33. It is always very easy for the devil to make us turn the Christian values upside down. This temptation is even worse today among the clergy than the laity.

Happy Sunday dear friends!

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