Aug. 23rd, Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introduction

Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth when God raised him up. Before his ascension He passed that authority to the church; “whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven”. He gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter the first Pope. Lets confess any ways we disrespect church authority..

Homily

All’s doom and gloom at present: recession, wars, the collapse of employment and prosperity. Yet though the sky fall down we Christians must be optimists. Jesus is risen and our life in him is always one of hope. I read recently about a priest who spent 20 years in a Chinese labor camps for being Christian. Yet he survived because faith taught him to prevent his inner life from being damaged by secular hatred and bitterness, to be happy even in the camp circumstances. Christ saves for this world too.

We mustn’t let the flabby devils of middle class materialism, pleasure and pride cause us to forget that, for then were on our way back to darkness. For money and the world’s not enough. When we experience suffering the uncaring commercial world Has little to offer. By contrast Jesus’s message is “be not afraid, I am with you”. He triumphed for us over the world and its storms at his rising, and then He set up an eternal safe harbor for us, the church: “thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my church”.

The great enduring legacy of Christ’s resurrection is apostolic and particularly Petrine authority. We enter a haven of salvation at baptism, a community Christ promised to be with until the end of time. He says the gates of hell will never prevail against it. That’s why I laugh when worldly people talk of the church’s demise; they’ve done so many times before. So even modern-day devils of materialism and indifference wont win out. For our church is safe and ever young in the hands of the Risen lord.

And He is the with the church forever. Indeed, He gave the very keys of the kingdom to Peter. God gave his risen Christ all authority in heaven and on earth. Before his ascension he passed that on to his church and Peter its first pope. So our house is built on a rock no worldly storm can destroy. Lets remember that when people make a football of the church and its apostolic authority. Christ’s gave us a blessed fruitful church and guaranteed its fullness of faith and unity for all time.

Never was that authority more needed than today when the trend is to water down the faith to suit worldly values. Self-appointed authors on TV or radio would replace the rock as our masters. But giving in to that would only bring spiritual chaos. Christ knew we’d need the sane unifying rock which is Peter to keep us firm in the faith. Cardinal Newman noted that churches which split from Rome have split again and again until any crackpot can set up a church now and call it what he will. But we must cling to the one true, Catholic church founded on the rock, maintaining the truth in season and out of season. We must listen to it rather than self-appointed Popes. For that church is not the disordered babble of arbitrary men twisting the truth to suit their own purposes but a timeless building founded on the gospel and tradition maintained by right authority. Curiously, the Pope’s real power is in his lack of it. When people ask him to change age-old doctrines his answer is “I’ve no authority to do so”. His foundation is Christ’s timeless truths, not the world’s shifting sands. For worldly values fade but Christ is lord of love, truth, peace and salvation for happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people given timeless gifts in the Lord and in right church authority, we profess our faith.

Prayers of the Faithful

And as God’s people whose house is set firmly on the rock that is the risen Christ in our midst, we pray for what we need..

For the Pope and the bishops of the church founded on the rock of the apostles and Peter their head, that they may never forget that they are servants not masters of the Christ’s teachings…

For our civil leaders that they may respect the authority of the church in its spiritual sphere and give it every assistance in carrying out its mission for the deeper good of society…

For our young people that they may hold fast to the rock which is the church and the saving truth of Christ its lord amid the shifting sands of a transitory and often anti-faith world..

For ourselves that we may listen to Christ’s elected servants in this world and bring his saving truth, love goodness and faith into our homes for our children’s happiness here and hereafter..

For the sick, the lonely, the aged and those suffering in body or mind that in Christ and his holy church they may cling to the faith that comforts and heals and restored the brokenhearted..

For the dead, that faithful to Christ and his church in life they may remain part of it after life in the timeless communion of the saints that is heavenly bliss..

And we ask all these prayers through the same Christ who is risen lord of all truth, life and love forever and ever amen

Reflection

There as fine scene in that great film “A Man for all Seasons”. Its about Thomas Moore, the chancellor under Henry V11. The king asks him to renounce Papal allegiance and accept him as church head, but Moore answers: “I love my king, but I obey God and his vicar on earth first”. Henry had Moore executed, yet all still recognize him as a great saint. Lets as bravely obey the church’s timeless divinely-conferred authority in matters of faith and morals, against all invasive secular attacks today ..Hail Mary

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