Finding Your Place Week 3

(Homily for Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A)

Message: We find our place not only by prayer and by discovering our relation to Israel, but also by discovering the New Israel - the one founded by Jesus and built on Peter.

This is week 3 of our series, Finding Your God's world: Listening to him in prayer and in history, especially the history of the Chosen People, Israel.

Find one's place enables a person to overcome envy - that constant comparing of oneself to others and resenting the other person because he has something I don't have.

In contrast to envy, St. Paul indicates the possibility of a good and holy jealousy where a person recognizes the other has something good and then works hard, makes sacrifices, to obtain it. Jealousy can be good, but it contains a danger. It can easily lead to full-blown envy - hating the other guy for what he has. Envy destroys the soul; it condemns a person to a self-made hell.

Ultimately a person can only overcome envy by finding his place in relation to God and others. We have seen the importance of our relation to Israel. Today's Gospel takes it a step further - our relation to the New Israel.

You have noticed that Jesus many apostles? That's right - 12! The number sticks in our minds because everyone in the Seattle area wanted to be the 12th man. Well, Jesus chose 12 apostles. He did it to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus came to found a new Israel, the Church, his Bride.

As today's first reading explains, in the original Israel one man had the key to the House of David. Likewise Jesus gives the keys to the kingdom to one of the 12 apostles. He doesn't entrust the keys to the one with most wealth, nor to the one with most studies, nor to the one with most personality. No, he gives the keys to the one with most faith. "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Then he gives Simon not only the keys, but also a new name - Peter, Rock. Jesus selects Simon Peter as a the head of the apostles because of his faith.

So it is throughout the centuries. Jesus selects men with weaknesses, sometimes embarrassing weaknesses. One of my favorites is a man named Callixtus. Born into a slave family, his owner gave him positions of responsibility and to be honest, he made some major blunders. (I write about him in the bulletin.) But in 218 A.D. when they needed a new pope, they chose Callixtus.

Not everyone liked the idea of a former slave as pope. And many resented his leniency to repentant sinners. But here's the thing: Jesus founded his Church on the Rock - Simon Peter and gave him the keys to the kingdom. When Peter died in Rome, they did not bury the keys with him. They gave the keys to his successor, St. Linus and so on, right up to Pope Francis. We find our place in relation to the living successor of the apostles - the bishops in union with the pope, the successor of Peter. That's how Jesus has constituted the New Israel.

When you think about the popes, it's good to remember St. Callixtus. As I mentioned many did not accept the former slave as pope. Next week I will tell you about one of them. Callixtus' election filled him with so much envy that the set himself up as anti-pope. We can learn a lot from this man's struggle with envy. I call him the "patron saint of the envious." But that's for next week.

For today I want you to see that we find our place not only by prayer and by discovering our relation to Israel, but also the New Israel - founded by Jesus and built on Peter. He's the rock, the one who has the keys. Let's listen again to Jesus' words to him:

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Amen.


To listen to the homily as it was delivered at St. Mary of the Valley click here

Finding Your Place Week 1
Finding Your Place Week 2
Finding Your Place Week 3
Finding Your Place Week 4
Finding Your Place Week 5
Week 6: Exaltation of the Cross
Week 7: Summing Up - Are You Envious Because I am Generous?:

Spanish Version

From Archives (for Twenty-First Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2017: Spiritual Warfare Week 10: The Burden of Community
2014: Finding Your Place Week 3
2011: Why We Need Two Keys for Salvation
2008: Three Unavoidable Questions
2005: The Two Keys
2002: Jesus Establishes a Sacred Order
1999: I Will Build My Church

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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