Homily for September 16

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Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


Imagine you’re out for a walk and Jesus is walking at your side
and he turns to you and he asks,
as we just heard him ask in the gospel
 “So, who do people say that I am?
And who do you say that I am?”

Or is that hard to imagine?
Is it hard to picture Jesus going for a walk with you?
If it is, then it’s a good thing you’re sitting down
because I’m here to tell you that Jesus was a passenger in your car
on your way to church here today.

And, kind of like a faithful dog,
Jesus followed you all around the house all day today
and last night he slept at the foot of your bed,
was awake before you and patiently waiting
for you to stop hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock!

And over the past week, any time you thought or felt you were alone -
you weren’t - Jesus was right by your side.

And whether you were at work, at school or out shopping,
Jesus was right there with you.
When you were driving the kids all over the place and back  again -
Jesus was riding shotgun in your car.

And when we were thinking and saying and doing loving things -
Jesus was thinking and saying and doing those things
right along with us.

when we were thinking and saying and doing some wrong things
 (and if we were, we know exactly what those things were)
Jesus was right there then, too, tugging on the sleeves of our hearts,
trying to pull us aside and get us back on the track of love.

And,  Jesus is sitting next to you - right now.
Not only in the soul of the person sitting on your right and on you left
but also in that space between you.
And he’s asking you - and he’s asking me:
 “Who do you say that I am? Who do YOU say that I am?”

And I’m going to be bold here and tell you
that’s the most important question any of us will ever face.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Who do I say Jesus is?
Indeed, who does the CHURCH say Jesus is.

And before any of us answers individually
or all of us answer together - as we do in the Creed -
let’s take care to remember
how much each of us and all of us - are like Peter.
When Jesus asked Peter this most important question,
he answered, You are the Christ!
Peter got it right.  At least he got it right - then.
But it wouldn’t be long before Peter would get it wrong - very wrong.
On the night before Jesus died, Peter was asked again:
You’re one of Jesus’ followers, aren’t you?
And Peter denied it saying, “I don’t even know the guy.”

How could someone, at one point, get it so right
and then at another time, get it so wrong?

That’s a question I ask myself
when I forget or ignore or deny the reality
that Jesus is always right by my side.

That’s what I have to ask myself when I forget or ignore or deny
that Jesus is always faithful to me - even when I’m unfaithful to him.

And that’s a question the whole Church and its leadership needs to ask
when forgetting or ignoring or denying the reality
that not only is Jesus with us
but also that, indeed, we  are called to be his Body
present in and for the world today.

In the Hebrew scriptures, the prophet Micah asks,
 “What does the Lord require of you?”
And Micah answers his own question:
Here is what the Lord asks of you, only this,
that you do what is just,
that you love what is good,
that you walk humbly with your God…

Walk with God… 
Walk humbly with the Lord
who humbled himself to walk with us.

So, as we walk through our day, as we walk through the week,
Jesus is walking with us and asking us, each of us,
Who do you say that I am?
And he’s waiting for us to answer.
Let me suggest some answers to the question,
Who do you say that I am?

Jesus, I say that you are my faithful friend:
everywhere I go, you go.
Help me, Lord, to follow you more faithfully,
to go where you lead me.

• Jesus, I say that you are my strength,
especially when I’m tempted
to think or say or do anything that denies or betrays you.
Help me, Lord, to rely on your strength and not on my own.

• Jesus, I say that you are the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
You offer me more than anyone else can give me,
you give me more than money or power can offer or promise.
Help me, Lord, to treasure you above all else that I have
and to treasure you in all the other gifts you’ve given me.

• And Jesus, I say that you are my peace,
that you alone can forgive my sins,
that yours alone is the mercy I need,
that you alone can cleanse me and make me new.
Help me, Lord, to believe, deeply, what I say
and to live by the words I speak.

In one form or another, in our own circumstances,
we all need to pray like this.
And right now, especially in these times,
the whole Church needs to pray like this - and not only to pray -
but to ask itself, as we ask ourselves,
In our thoughts, our words and our deeds:
who do we say Jesus is?

At this altar, the Lord’s table, Jesus shows us who he is
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist;
he shows us who he was for us on the Cross:
our friend, our strength, our most precious gift,
our merciful peace.

Jesus, this is what we believe.
Jesus, this is who we say you are in our lives.
Jesus, keep us faithful to the words we speak in faith.


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