FR ADRIAN'S HOMILY
Homily delivered on the Feast of St Joseph for Gayndah community.
Year B 2021
Even the briefest of surveys reveals that we are immersed in a sea of religious beliefs and ideologies. When this year’s census data is published “no religion” will have been ticked by a growing percentage of the population. The percentage owning their affiliation to a particular religion or church will in all likelihood have decreased from the previous census 6 years ago. What the figures give little insight into is the personal beliefs of the those who responded. I wonder what a category like “personal beliefs” would have scored. Even though others my disagree, I sense that all people believe in something, something that helps them make sense of day to day living and the big issues of life, like suffering and death, heart break and betrayal, generosity and selfishness.
I identify as a Catholic Christian. For me, Jesus is THE revelation of the inner life of God and he is the one who has a personal interest in me and a desire that I embrace the way he lived and looked at life. Jesus identifies with the church, the people who have responded to his call to follow him and who make him present in the societies in which they live. These people have confronted the darkness of self-absorption and the realization that they lack God’s power to maintain control. They accept they are not all-powerful or all-knowing. For me, Jesus is not a figure “out there” but more one who “in here”, in here, with all the joys and sorrows of life, with all its beauty and its messiness.
When Jesus, in today’s gospel, asks his friends who others say he is and then who they, his friends and disciples, say he is, he asks a question that sets Jesus apart from Abraham, Moses, the Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed.
I cannot recall any of them putting such a question to those who followed them and accepted what they taught. For those religious leaders and philosophers they, as individuals, were not central, only the teaching they brought. None of these followers see themselves as the body of any of them in the way we speak of being the body of Christ.
Not so with Jesus. What he wants is for each and every disciple to have, to cherish and develop a personal relationship with Him as an individual. He wants us to encounter him and respond to him.
Peter’s answer “you are the Christ” is absolutely correct. Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the anointed one, who initiates the final stage of human history. He is what every human being is called to be by the Father. Immediately and disconcertingly, Jesus proceeds to instruct the disciples about the path of suffering and death (you can hear the words of the prophet Isaiah about the servant who suffers for the liberation of the people and who remains faith to God through it all). Peter, no doubt with the others voicing their agreement with his words, rejects what Jesus says. Messiahs, God’s anointed don’t follow such a path. That is for less important people. The terse response Jesus utters “Get behind me, Satan (prosecuting attorney)” shows Peter has touched a nerve. Jesus had considered what kind of Messiah he would be. He chose the path that embraced not rejected suffering.
Where he walks, we walk if we wish to be faithful to him and bring his new way of living to others. We are not stoics (stiff upper lip types) or masochists. We are realists. We know the world we live in. We know the beliefs we can profess but put them to one side if they mean we reject Jesus as the one who guides. Jesus brings wisdom from above and we accept that.