Isaiah 22:19-23 Psalm 138:1-8 Romans 11:33-36 Mt 16:13-20
“I like Christ…. but not the Church…” “I don’t like the Church because it has become an institution…” “I believe in my own way. I don’t need to go to Church and have someone tell me what to believe…” “The Church is a bunch of hypocrites who like to boast about their grand old traditions and heritages…” “The Church is just an exciting place to suit my rocking life & it’s not my favorite. These are some of the rough words that we often hear from too many people in the 21st century.
Okay… what is the Church? Why do some people see the Church as a stumbling block for their agenda? The word “Church” comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia.” The word Ekklesia can be divided into two parts: “ek” means “out of”, and “kaleo” means to call. Altogether, Ekklesia means “to be called out of.” In other words, the Church is a body which is called out of the world to be a family and fellowship in God. The Church is an assembly which is called out of materialistic world to be a sign of hope and salvation!
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus declaring to Simon … “on this rock, I will build my Church; and the gates of the netherworld will not overcome it.” Jesus calls Simon Peter or rock because the word “rock” has some significant meanings in the Old Testament. Dt 8:15 tells that it was the rock which God made as the source of water in the wilderness. Ex 33:22 tells that it was the rock that protected, covered and thus became a source of refuge for Moses when God walked through the mount Sinai with his radiant face. Most of the time the Psalmist and Moses saw God as the rock of refuge. Jesus called Simon Peter or rock to suggest that the Church which will be built on Peter would be the source of holiness, the channel of living waters of grace, sacraments and a refuge for sinners and the home for those who are lost.
There is a connection between the mystery of the Church and the mystery of Christ. When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who am I” (Mt 16: 13) he got varied answers… some surprising… some unexpected. The Mystery of Jesus was so great…that people failed to grasp who actually He was…The Mystery of the Church is also great…that people fail to understand her and even form opposing opinions!
We may feel that the Church is too traditional and too conservative and too authoritarian…But we fail to see that she has preserved much morals…kept safe human values… promoted civilized culture and holiness.
We may feel that the Church is all too mistaken in many areas and has committed many blunders… But we ought to know that the Church has a human dimension though the Spirit of the Lord leads her.
We may feel that the Church is just too bad with scandals and hypocrites and has lost all credibility… But we need to realize that the evil one attacks those who strive for sanctity and thus tries to destroy God’s plans.
My beloved people of God,
From a negative aspect, What is a Hospital? Diseases, Blood, Pus, Screaming, Pains, Twisted bodies, Suffering… But from a Positive Aspect, What is a Hospital? Care, Healing, Love, Solace, Relief, Aid, Selfless Service….
Our Church can be understood in similar tones…Weaknesses are plenty…yet, when seen from a Divine perspective, she is Holy!
The Body of Christ while hanging on the Cross was weak ….but “No bone of His was broken” (Jn 19:36)
The Church of Christ while living in the world maybe weak….but It will never be destroyed by anything and by anyone!
Let God us to stand firm and become passionate in service of the Church. May this Eucharistic celebration give us strength to stand with the Church and to stand for the Church for the salvation of the whole world. Amen.