TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
27th August 2023
Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20.
At Caesarea Philippi Jesus demanded from his apostles what they know about him and his ministry. He started by finding out popular opinions about him that dominate everyday discussion among the people. He asked: ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ The answers the apostles gave placed Jesus at the same level with popular prophets of old, whose influence are still felt in the present. ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ These answers are not far from the truth about Jesus and his ministry. Somewhat his unique approach did not fit into the popular categories of the prophets of old. The people simply made use of what is familiar to them. Then Jesus decided on a direct approach by asking his apostles, ‘But you, who do you say I am?’ Inspired by the Holy Spirit Peter answered: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Some biblical scholars are of the opinion that the apostles know that Jesus could be the messiah but were afraid to say it for fear of the Jews. We recall that this encounter took place shortly after the beheading of John the Baptist.
We need the Holy Spirit today more than ever to be able to state the obvious about Jesus. We live in a time when there is no public or popular opinion about Jesus. We live in a time when religion is no longer a matter for public discussion. There are very few religious programme on TV and they are not attractive to most people. There’s no public debate about his personality anywhere around us except at Sunday Mass. Some of us who are very pious may be afraid to be termed fanatical should they engage in any discussion on religious matters. Some of us may be too ashamed to engage in discussions about religion. Some of us wish to discuss Jesus but there’s no one to listen. Our hope is that the same Holy Spirit who inspired Peter to conquer his fears will come to our aid. We need the Holy Spirit today more than ever in order to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.