Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday word, 24 Aug 2008

21st Sunday of the Year A (24Aug2008) Is 22. 19-23; Ps 138; Rm 11. 33-36; Mt 16. 13-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Scissors, Paper, Rock
That names a game of chance between two people, which I learned as a child. Many of us know it. At the count of three players drop their forearms level with the floor and make one of three configurations with their hands: two fingers out and apart equal scissors; palm open facing the floor is paper; and hand made into a fist is rock.

Scissors cuts paper, and when players choose those two configurations, the scissors-player wins the round. Rock breaks scissors and when players choose those two configurations, the rock-player wins the round. Paper covers rock, and when players choose those two configurations, the paper-player wins the round.

I was mystified as a child that paper beat rock. My first impression was that rock’s solidity would smash flimsy paper. I didn’t think according to the game’s logic. Paper covers rock, hiding it, therefore winning, despite rock’s hefty, solid character.

The logic of that rule is a way into our Christian faith, which this weekend’s scriptures highlights prominently. Giving voice to God’s desire for God’s people, Isaiah used the image of a peg: I will fix [my servant] like a peg in a sure spot. Faith is both a surety and a security. Isaiah also used the image of a key: I will place the key of the House of David on [my servant’s] shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open, words Jesus would vary and make his. Faith is a key for our lives, opening onto true meaning and giving our lives true purpose.

Faith is no inanimate object, though, like peg, key, scissors, paper or rock. Jesus’ question to his disciples was not a quiz. Who do you say that I am? showed Jesus’ desire for his disciples in every age to know him more intimately: to know him for who Jesus is.

Peter’s response to Jesus, that he was God’s Son and Messiah-Savior of the world, personified what we call apostolic faith. Our Christian faith is a gift, handed to us and every generation by the witness of the apostles. Plus, our Christian faith is a divine gift, God’s continuous self-revelation.

Our faith does not cover events to blot them out or hide painful events, which painfully cut the fabric of our lives. As relationship, faith keeps us connected with God in Jesus by their Spirit despite events that would rip us apart from God, from each other or from ourselves.

The relationship, which faith is, not chance. It is God’s gift, which involves our choice. Faith transforms mastery over the palace of God’s creation entrusted to us into care. Faith transforms authority into genuine service so that each person and our whole world may grow more alive. Our choices to cultivate and deepen our faith have effects not only of a personal kind; our faith and how we live it transform our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the presence of the Trinity, feeling their creative love for you and resting securely in it. Ask Peter, so much like us in our limitations as well as our desire to know Jesus, to present you to Jesus, so that you may converse with Jesus. Praise Jesus for all Jesus has done and is doing in your life. Speak to Jesus your desire to know him better, and ask him for the grace to help you know him better. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to stay in relationship with his Father and to live our faith by lives of care, genuine service, resting securely in our every deepening felt-knowledge of Jesus, our Messiah-Savior.
Wiki-image by Giovanni Dall'Orto of Jesus as Savior of the world is used according to Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license.

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