Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is. 22:19-23, Ps. 138:1-8, Rm. 11:33-36, Mt. 16:13-20
“From God and through God and in God are all things.” Rm. 11:36
As I began reflecting on the readings for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “How can anyone equate the word “ordinary” to the times we’re living in today?”Clearly, every single day, we’re confronted with paralyzing global and national concerns; consider a few: Covid-19, poverty, health-care policies, systemic racism, and immigration. Also, beyond these named issues, there are overwhelming pandemic feelings that can easily invade one’s psyche: isolation, loneliness, worry, fear or confusion. Obviously, - in the middle of this year 2020 - calling any day “ordinary “ would force one to engage in extraordinary mind-altering.
All that being said… this Sunday, Christians can and hopefully will stay anchored in faith, that Holy Trinity God does exist; and undoubtedly, God’s divine energy remains alive and well during these tumultuous times! Indeed, today’s scriptures reminds us that, for over two-thousand years, divine life has faithfully been… our rock, our refuge, our stronghold, and salvation” (Ps. 18)
In the first reading from the Old Testament, Isaiah the prophet, shares the story of Eliakim, another prophetic servant of God. We read in this passage that during ages long past, evil was rampant, and had made deep trenches in Jerusalem and in the House of David. Eliakim was ordained to overpower society’s evil at that time, and his blessed intervention established peace…a rooted “peg in a secure spot.”
Then Paul, an apostle to the apostles, in his letter to the Romans, gives us profound insight into the mystery of the God we believe in. He was chosen to glimpse “the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” Paul’s response to his brief encounter with the Divine leaves him awe-struck and he simply reflects: “How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!”
Finally, in the gospel, we encounter the human revelation of God, in Jesus the Son. He is on his mission and is in company with his disciples. Jesus, being human-like ourselves, is searching to totally understand who he is, and what it means to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Relying on the twelve who know him best, Jesus asks them a pivotal question regarding his identity, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The responses offered are varied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus presses on, “But, who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answers and says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Immediately, at this moment, Jesus’ identity emerges and is solidified. He is the “anointed one” and the promised Messiah. Jesus then praises the rocklike faith of Peter and the whole community of disciples who follow him.
As followers, we too, are invited today, to join with our faith community, and strengthen our belief in Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let’s spend time now, August 23, 2020, in prayer… both alone and with others, asking Jesus to help us get to know him more intimately, and to deepen our relationship with him. It’s important to remember, we are connected to a living God, and this holy energy can and will mission each one, to share her/his gifts with others; then we’ll work even harder, and overcome present day societal evils and personal weaknesses. Yes, positive changes can happen…even during 2020!!
Sr. Shirley Jeffcott, OP