Homily preached by Br Andrew at Winmalee on
Sunday 24th August 2014: ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20
Rocks , Pebbles and Talents
Today’s readings might be the inspiration for many a sermon, in fact several took faltering steps in my mind.
What stuck in my mind was the word ‘Rock”.
Rocks and minerals are essential in our lives. We use halite on our food, drink out of aluminium cans, and brush our teeth with a compound containing clay; dusting our newborns down with fine talc and much much more…
Our first reading has the sub title Salvation for Zion wherein the Lord calls upon the righteous Jews to remember their roots. For they seek the Lord with an intense desire, persistently chasing, the justification of their persons, the sanctification of their nature, and practical obedience to God’s law; desiring above all things to know him, to be reconciled with Him and to be in communication with His Spirit.
These, his true people, he exhorts to look to the rock they were cut from, and to the hold of the pit they were dug from to Look to Abraham their father, the Rock and to Sarah, the hole of the pit, who bore them; for when Abraham was but one God called him, and blessed him, and made him many.
God’s promise fulfilled in Abraham gave him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore – as if, perhaps that great rock was crushed and the stones therefrom awaited the coming of the Holy One of God.
Jesus is now in Caesarea Philippi, nearby the Southwest base of Mount Hermon, where the Transfiguration may soon have taken place he is taking time out and continuing to give his disciples, their final Spiritual education.
After the discourse in Capernaum many of the disciples had left him due to his revealing the seemingly cannibalistic nature of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood and at that time Peter had made his Profession of faith saying
“We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
So it can be argued that it comes as a surprise when Jesus asks the same question, rather abruptly "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Who do people say that I, the son of Adam or a son of Adam am? Jesus accentuates his humanity by equating himself with all who are formed from the clay the adama, with humanity.
Who is this human? He says, as if to test whether his disciples now had their own purer faith or were yet affected by the beliefs of the times. “Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”; reflecting the contemporary belief in the transmigration of souls – yet again Peter answers
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter is sure in the faith of the Lord that Jesus Christ is THE Son of the living God, THE Son not a Son.
It is the Heavenly Father who has revealed this to Peter and now Jesus reveals who Peter is to be.
The Greek tells us that Peter or (Petros) is a certain rock, while the Hebrew further states that this rock is special, a unique mineral; who is the Rock, Petra, upon which Jesus will build his Assembly and the gates of Hades shall not defeat it.
He is the one to whom will be given the keys of the kingdom and the awful responsibility of binding and releasing for whatever he bound on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever he released on earth will have been released in heaven."
According to church tradition; The Apostle Peter founded the ancient Patriarch of Antioch go to for more about Peter http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm#II
Peter was our Spiritual foundation the one Christians look back to the rock from which they were hewn a special pebble chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ as the foundation of the body of Christ which is a living entity.
Keeping this firmly in mind St Paul urges the Christians in Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy acceptable to God, not dying for the Lord but becoming living sacrifices putting aside their own desires in favour of God’s will for them.
As Ecumenical Franciscans we understand the difficulty in being in the world but not of it, Paul places this topic at the head of his exhortations and it seems that keeping custody of the self in the following ways are to be cultivated if we desire to achieve this status with Equanimity.
It applies no less to secular Christians and in proportion to their position of Power and responsibility in the world from which they seek to distance themselves. To transform our hearts and minds, change the current running through our minds and send different messages through the synapses of our brains – through prayer, supplication, and meditation.
Paul says – “, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” prove to ourselves and each other that God’s Purpose will reveal itself if we make room for it.
Paul also speaks of the measure of grace given to him through which he has received insight concerning the vanities of Ego, Pride, Jealousy, Envy, and lack of self-worth and proceeds to instruct the new Christians of the necessity to banish these so that their true nature and position in the Body of Christ, the Church may be seen and realised.
Our egos prevent us from seeing beyond ourselves and from change; we cannot present ourselves as a living sacrifice when we think too highly of ourselves to become a gift to God rather selfishly hugging everything we think we are close to our chests.
Or if we are too proud to do so, afraid that others will wonder what has come over us that we have suddenly got God.
Our prayer to God is for a balanced mind that thinks reasonably of ourselves neither that we are too great nor too small and to envy no one for those spiritual and temporal gifts we do not have, for each one is allotted according to the need of the entire Assembly rather than for the individual. We cannot all be hands! Or artists! Or Theologians! Altogether we are one Body in Jesus Christ our Lord and one of the sicknesses of our church today is that we have fractured the Church Universal to so much a degree that we might well ask “Is God broken?”
Having, then, our various unique gifts let us use them to heal the Body to which we belong to bind our wounds, rest our weary, refocus those who have lost their way and constantly search out the perfect Purpose of God.
- If we are teachers teach
- Gardener’s garden
- Accountants Account
- Parents nurture
- Carers care
- Theologians Study the Word of God
- Reporters Do so honestly
In short whatever we are do for the glory of God and for His Assembly and every other living in this world but be not of its un-Godliness.