12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

     

     In today’s Gospel Jesus asks each of us the most fundamental question of our faith “Who do you say that I am?” Friends there is no shying away from the question. It is a question that all of us have had to or will have to answer sometime in our life. The way we answer this question will determine how we live our lives and will ultimately lead to what we choose for our final eternal destiny.

     This fundamental question stared me in the face at the end of my junior year of high school, when seemingly out of nowhere, the idea of becoming a priest popped into my mind. To be honest I was looking forward to college, a beautiful family and a successful career, so priesthood was the last thing I wanted. Yet the more I tried to get the idea of being a priest out of my mind, the deeper it dug in. As this idea of priesthood kept popping into my head I ultimately found myself at a crisis of faith; after all if I was going to give my life in service to Christ and His Church I better be sure this whole Catholic religion thing is really true.

     I grew up in a very Catholic family; my parents took me to Mass every day, we prayed together as a family every night, and it was just taken for granted that I would be a faithful Catholic, but I had never taken the opportunity to answer Jesus’ basic question, “who do you say that I am.” With the idea of priesthood cementing itself in my brain I found myself lying awake at night question who Jesus was. Sure I knew that Jesus claimed to be God, but I didn’t know if I truly believed Him. As I wrestled with this question I realized that Jesus either must really be who He says He is or He is the world’s greatest fraud. I could go on for hours explains how I was able to come to answer with St. Peter you are “the Christ of God,” (we will save that for another time), but the real challenge came when I was able to confess that Jesus is truly the Son of God, because in confessing Christ to be the Son of God, it demanded that I make changes in my life to conform to His teachings.

     While I had come to believe in my mind Jesus was who He said He was, living that profession out seemed impossible. As I tried to live out my Catholic faith I found it difficult to understand and difficult to live out. It was not until I began to understand my relationship with God that everything began to fall into place.

     In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds us that we are “all Children of God in Christ Jesus.” My friends God is our Father. We have a Father/son or Father/daughter relationship with our God, who loves us in the most perfect way that a Father can. It was only after accepting the scandalous thought that I am a beloved son of the Father that I was able to give myself over totally to Him. For this image of a father / child relationship helps to make clear for us who God is in relationship to us.

     Like most people, when I was younger, I believed my dad was superman. I thought he was the world’s strongest man, he was smarter than anyone else and he was the best athlete in the world. Yet as I grow up, I now realize how truly special my dad is, but I have to face the reality that he is human like the rest of us. While my biological father may not actually be the world’s strongest man, or the smartest, or the best athlete in the world, I have a Heavenly Father who is divine, and thus is truly all knowing, all powerful and all loving. Just as biological fathers, in their love for their children, seek to provide them with all they need so too does our Heavenly Father desire to provide for our every need. Since God is my father, He wants what is best for me. He knows me better than I know myself and knows the way to true happiness. So as a son of the Father, as a Christian, my way to eternal happiness and peace is to surrender to God’s will, to His way shown to me in the Bible and the teachings of the Church. Sure I may not always understand them, and I might find them hard to accept, but my heavenly Father is perfect and so I know as a good Father, he is guiding to towards, what is true, good and beautiful and if I follow Him He will show me the path to true happiness.

     So while “it is true: God disturbs our comfortable day – to -day existence,”[1]  just as any good father, He is always there looking out for our best interest. So as we gather this weekend to celebrate our father’s let’s not forget to honor the Father of us all, God the Father. Let’s once again find the innocence of being the spiritual child of our creator and boldly proclaim with St. Peter that Jesus is “the Christ of God” and live our lives as sons or daughters of the Father.

 

[1] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Jesus of Nazareth Part III. San Francisco: Image, 2012. Pg 103

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