Bottom line: In union with the pope and the bishops, we experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Many years ago the mighty Persian Empire was set to attack the Greek city states. The Persians outnumbered the Greeks a hundred to one. Still, a Greek king named Demaratus warned the Persian emperor that the Greeks will fight to the last man because they love their freedom - and they love their law.*
They love their freedom and they love their law. We can see similar sentiments in the Bible. Earlier this summer we heard St. Paul speak about "the glorious freedom of the children of God". Today we see the other side of the coin - Jesus setting up a governing structure for his Church, a framework for order and law. Out of the twelve apostles, Jesus selects Simon and says to him, "you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church..."
Peter's successors are the popes. The bishops, in union with the pope, provide the organizing structure - the law for Jesus' church. That's why our mission statement says, "Blessed to live in this beautiful valley, we are Christians in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Etienne..." The pope and bishops provide a structure for living out of our faith.
For example, the pope and bishops give us the "rubrics" for celebrating Mass. The rubrics are instructions, like steps in a dance. During the pandemic there are a few new rubrics such as when the priest puts on the mask and when he takes it off. And also when you take down the mask - for example, right before receiving Communion. These rubrics, these laws, enable us to celebrate the Mass as a complex and beautiful dance. Myself, I'm a clumsy dancer but I try to follow the rubrics as best I can. They allow us to experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Like the ancient Greeks we love our freedom and we love our laws. Satan will not defeat us. As St. Paul observes, dangers surrounded us. Covid is one more, hardly the worst. Paul says the worst for him is his daily anxiety for souls of others. In all our dangers, Jesus protects us spiritually.
That happens when we connect to Jesus by prayer. Next week we will see how we need a structure of prayer - a rule or law - for our individual and family lives.
Today we see the structure Jesus gives when he designates Peter as the rock on which he builds his church. In union with the pope and the bishops, we experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. Amen.
*I am indebted to Spencer Klavan of Young Heretics for this summary of the conversations between Demaratus and Xerxes
From Archives (for Twenty-First Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru