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Scripture Reflection - August 27, 2023

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Is 22:19-23 | Rom 11:33-36 | Mt 16:13-20

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

“Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”

(St. Catherine of Siena)

The Scriptural readings today remind us of those who were Divinely called to be who they were meant to be. In the reading from Isaiah, Eliakim is given robe, sash, authority, and key to “be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem…”

In the Gospel, Peter is told that the revelation that he proclaims that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the living God” is his path to be the rock upon which the Church is to be built.

Jesus reveals that his Church is to be built, and “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Jesus had “Passion for the Possible”- for Church. Who is the Church meant to be that we can set the world on fire? And that includes the “domestic church” such as the early communities of the apostles, families, intentional communities, base communities, and religious communities.

The Eucharistic Liturgy gives us a path for the fire to be born within these intentional communities. Do we say or think, “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you”, within these gatherings? Do we practice repentance and forgiveness; offer a healing, comforting, and strengthening Word to one another; share gifts blessed and broken; pray for each other and for a world in need; listen, give, and receive to be in communion with one another and go forth remembering we are part of the total human family?

So much of the Church seems to be centered around “Sacraments”. Both the Eucharist and Sacraments are clergy centered around the “ordained priesthood”, open at this time only to men. In gratitude for the non-patriarchal men who serve, the sacramental nature of the Church has more to offer. I have learned this pastoral approach in my work in a visiting nurse agency as a pastoral care counselor. The teachings of the Church evidence much wisdom and are of great importance. So also are the needs of our people. I listen to the needs of so many patients and caregivers and take from the treasury of the Church to meet them where they are. Can we not, inspired and empowered by the Spirit from which the Church is born, be a Sacramental Presence in whatever “Body of Christ”, whatever Church we find ourselves? Can we not be repenting, forgiving; heralds of the Word in whatever form; be a disciple, and be discipled in communion with one another, all by the Grace of God offered in and through the Church, through each other? We walk together with Mary, our mother, our sister, and bearer of God. This is the Body of Christ, says she and says we.

Pope Francis gives us a living example of the Church in the world in his work Laudato Si, calling us to Care for the Planet. Our call as Church is to do justice for immigrants and against the work of white Christian supremacists in their beliefs and racist actions and foster truth in politics and the media; to be united in our households, respecting and responsible. We are meant to be as a Church, as a family, as a community, so “we will set the world on fire” - transformed and transforming. Pope Francis, at a recent Youth Conference, reminded us, “there is space in the Church for everyone, everyone, everyone.” A good start at this time of exclusion.

Our call today is to bloom, really bloom where we are planted. This is all possible and encouraged by the Word of our God today. We need to have a ‘Passion for the Possible’ for this to happen; otherwise, we become lackadaisical! And so we pray, alone and together, doing our best and allowing God to do the rest for the building of the small and large Kin(g)dom of God’s gatherings. We are meant to be believing, Gospel obedient, and passionate about this call to be who we are called to be. No excuses! Our world needs the fire of God’s Love and Presence.

Sr. Jo-Anne Faillace, OP


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