21 August 2011

A SIGN OF CHRIST'S FIDELITY TO US


21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt 16:13-20


          The Pope is in Madrid, Spain as I write this homily.  His Holiness Benedict XVI is with thousands of young pilgrims for the 26th World Youth Day.  With the theme, taken from Col 2:7, “Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith”, the Holy Father not only makes more tangible to the young people, on whom, in his very own words, the Church depends (Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the Twenty-Sixth World Youth Day, 10 August 2010), the unfailing love of the Lord but also brings closer to them the mandate to venture into the world even as they keep their lives strongly anchored on and ever-nourished by Him.  In a world about which Pope Benedict XVI laments to be suffering “amnesia” about God, there is indeed a lot of reminding and remembering each of us – young and otherwise – must do.
I remember reading a witty anecdote.  One day, Pope Leo XIII visited a church that was reported to him to be very much neglected.  Quietly and unnoticed, he entered the church and knelt down on one of the pews.  After praying, he went to the rectory to pay his courtesy to the Pastor and mingle with the Pastor’s household and some parishioners.  When it was time for him to go, the Pastor made a request, “Holy Father, may we have a remembrance of this surprised yet very happy visit that the Vicar of Christ deigned to bestow upon us?”  “O, a remembrance, you said, Father?” Pope Leo XIII asked.  “Yes, Your Holiness, a remembrance please,” answered the Pastor excitedly.  The Pope smiled and said, “Go inside your church and find the pew I knelt upon and there you shall see the remembrance I left for you.”  As soon as the Pope left, the Pastor, his household, and the parishioners hurriedly went to the church to find the remembrance that the Pope left for them.  Lo and behold, on the layer of dust covering the pew they see his name written in large strokes: “Leo XIII”.  That was their remembrance they got!
Certainly, when the young people present in the World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain these days go back home to their respective countries, they will be bringing with them many remembrances of the Pope and their several encounters with him.  Perhaps, in large strokes, the name “Benedict XVI” will likewise be written in many hearts that maybe were already otherwise covered with layers of dust.  As it was with my own experience of the World Youth Day in Manila in 1995, when I was one of the deacons of the now Blessed John Paul II, the young people in Madrid will never forget Pope Benedict XVI and will always remember their days in Madrid as one of the significant moments, if not turning points, in their individual lives.
But they are not the first to remember.  Neither am I.  Not even Benedict XVI.  In fact, Benedict XVI would not have been pope had this guy forgotten who Jesus really is.  He was Simon, son of Jonah, a fisherman from Bethsaida, one of the Twelve closest friends of Jesus.  To him, Jesus entrusted the ministry of uniting His disciples from every place and time, shepherding them in truth and charity, and leading them in humility and fidelity.  He was the first pope.  And Benedict XVI is his 265th successor.
When Jesus threw straight to the Twelve the question who they say He was, it was Simon who remembered the correct answer.  He spoke up on behalf of the group, saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Indeed he got it but not without some help from God, Jesus commented.  Nonetheless, Simon did get it.  And having recognized the true identity of the Christ, the Christ gave Simon a new identity that came with a new name: Kepha which in Greek is Petros, meaning “rock”. 
Two thousand years before Pope Leo XIII traced his name in bold letters on that dusty pew inside a neglected church, Jesus already wrote in clear strokes the name Kepha on the otherwise sandy heart of Simon the Fisherman.  And sandy though that heart was indeed – for the gospels attest to the blunders that Simon did – Jesus built His Church on it.  That Church still exists today – sinless yet made of sinners, holy but still being purified – and, led and held together by the successor of Simon Peter, continues to serve humanity as the sacrament of Christ’s love in the world.
Again, I remember reading somewhere that a papal nuncio once wrote that a Protestant approached him and asked, “Does the Pope still exist?”  “Of course, he still doest exist!” surprised, the nuncio replied.  “Then, there is nothing clearer,” commented the Protestant.  “You see,” the Protestant continued, “Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, claimed that he would be the death of the popes.  Now, if after four centuries the Pope still exists today, Luther must have lied.  And God would not have chosen a liar to reform the Church that still has and always has had a pope.”
          The unending line of Peter’s successors reminds us of Christ’s fidelity to His Church.  Among other things, the person of the Pope points to the faithfulness of Jesus to us.  Even given the dark corridors in the Church’s history, the Pope is still a sign of Christ’s fidelity to us.  In return, let us be faithful to Jesus.  Let us respect, obey, and love the pope He has chosen for us.  He is a gift to us by Christ, the Son of the Living God.

3 Comments:

At 5:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father Titco,
Hi!
I've been reading your blogs for quite sometime and I really appreciate the knowledge Ive been learning from you about Jesus and about life. Thank you, I really do.
My mom and my close friends told me that Im really a complicated person. I am the character people are not supposed to like. Im an angel and a killer at the same time, they say. I have these two extremes- total humility and total ego, Im that self-centered and that generous.
Its hard to balance both, being too much of either two is not good. Your homilies bailed me out of my indecisions and my indifferences, it has been my guide. Enumerating those circumstances will take me long. To cut it out, i want to express my gratitude..

Looking forward to your future blogs..

-Gail

 
At 12:31 AM , Blogger Fr. Bobby said...

Hi Gail!

You are welcome.

Thank you, too.

God bless you!

Fr. Bobby

 
At 10:02 AM , Blogger Lloyd said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God bless, Lloyd

 

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