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Loving My Church
Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Opening Prayer: Oh, Holy Spirit I open my heart and mind. Please come to me. Guide this prayer so that I may worship you with all my heart.
- Called to a Personal Relationship with Christ: At first, Jesus asked his disciples a rather generic question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” But there was no mistaking the very personal nature of the second question, “And who do you say that I am?” Our relationship with Jesus, to which every single one of us is invited, knows no end, has no gaps in time, is 24/7, and makes every minute of our life count in a new and profound way. Loving Christ gives our life its whole meaning.
- Assistance of the Holy Spirit: Peter, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, answered Jesus proclaiming Jesus’s divinity. But his faith was not quite mature enough to see everything in this light. Peter still struggled to consider the cross, humiliation, death, injustice, and mistreatment from the perspective of faith in Jesus. Later, Peter learned that lesson well: “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Peter 4:12-13). A mature faith allows us to see our whole life (joys, sorrows, and sufferings) as Jesus looks at it.
- Peter and the Church: Peter’s proclamation had some life-altering consequences for him and his fellow apostles. Peter was made the rock of the new church Jesus was forming, and all of them would become priests with the power to bind or loose sin. They would become the first in a long, long line of ordained priests, bishops, and popes who would serve the Church (all of us) through Jesus’s power and authority. There are also consequences for each of us who profess to be Catholic. We are called to love the church and build it up. “In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course” (St. Boniface).
Conversing with Christ: My beloved Jesus, in your sweet presence I ask you to increase my faith so that I might see what you see—that I might see my family, neighbors, friends, and others as you see them. Help me to live my life with purpose, and help me to trust you and abandon myself to you more and more.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make silent acts of faith in your presence.
For Further Reflection: “If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hated… Look for the Church that is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because he came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world, as Our Lord was rejected by men. Look for the Church which amid the confusions of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its Voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly it is otherworldly. since it is otherworldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ himself. But only that which is Divine can be infinitely hated and infinitely loved. Therefore the Church is Divine” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen).
Father Bernardo Torres, LC, was born and raised in Mexico City. He has certifications for couple’s therapy and currently works in Louisiana with young adults helping them to grow deeper in their faith.