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Homily 24th Sunday (B) Who Do You Say I Am?

Posted by frmac on September 12, 2009

We are a people of faith. We are a people of works. “Faith by itself,” St. James tells us this Sunday, “is dead, if it has no works.” In the Gospel we hear Jesus, the Christ, talk about suffering, and the cross: “Take up the cross and follow me,” Jesus says to the crowd.

During our history as Church we have inspired hope in the midst hopelessness, fostered creativity and human achievement, and presented to the generations the biblical vision of human co-creation with God. We have fed the poor, comforted and cured the sick, and defended human rights, especially, the rights of children, the orphans, the widows, the weak, and the deprived. We have created sacred places to call the human spirit to awe and worship of the God who created all. We have condemned selfishness and greed, and challenged and inspired millions to live in love, mercy, forgiveness, generosity, and peace. We have taken seriously the command of Jesus to love God with everything we’ve got, and our neighbor as our selves; all because we heard Jesus’ call to discipleship and have allowed God’s grace to inspire us in life.

This Sunday, we like the Apostles hear this question: “Who do you say that I am?” It is this very question that helps us to live in the mystery that surrounds us, and to be realists. And as realists we not only remember the good that Christians have done, but we also acknowledge and recognize the bad. This is a matter of faith for us, for if we only remember the good, and deny the bad, we know we have forgotten the Cross, and who Jesus really is. And, oh my, there is so much we would rather not remember, but would rather forget. John Paul II reminded us of this in his prayer for forgiveness at the beginning of this millennium.

As individuals and as communities, we have sometimes opted for grandeur and comfort in the midst of suffering, made alliances with repressive governments, suppressed inquiring minds, refused God’s grace, oppressed the weak and the poor, squandered our gifts and talents, held grudges, maligned the innocent, marginalized and killed prophets and those different from us, and suppressed the gifts of others for a diversity of reasons. We have even ignored and denied our own sinfulness and the sinfulness in our midst. We have done good, but we have also done bad, and we know it.

As a people we are realists. We recognize our potential for both good and evil, and we call others to do the same. We recognize human limitations and sinfulness, and believe that it is because of God’s love and grace that we hold our heads high, yet stand in humbleness before God and one another. True to Jesus’ prayer we consider God our Father, we pray and work for the coming for the coming of God’s kingdom, and we ask God to watch over us, and to be with us at all times. We fervently pray to live in dignity and health with bread on our tables for ourselves and our children, and we ask God to keep us on the straight and narrow path, and not to be led astray: "Lead us not into temptation,” we pray, “but deliver us from evil."

We are very much like the apostles and the first disciples. We hear God’s call, but we don’t always understand. We ask for the wrong things. We sometimes despair. We may even run away. But like the first followers, we have learned that God is always there loving us, and ready to forgive and embrace us. We might give up, but we know God never does, and in this we find hope and the ability to go on. We know that God loves us so much that Jesus died for us – that’s how much God loves us, we boast. When we fall down we have this tremendous ability to pick ourselves back up and keep on going – striving for the good, because we believe in God’s love, presence, and promises.

And so this Sunday let us pray that we will never forget the most important, as we journey through life. Let us cling to our faith, our love for God and one another, and ask Jesus the Christ to inspire us as we come to the table he prepared for us with his life.

Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

Let us go to His table – the Bread of Life – in humble thankfulness, then let us return to the world to do God’s works.

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