Fr. Luke's Weekly Sermon

Fr. Luke's Sermon- September 24, 2023

I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.”  Words from our 2nd reading today from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

There is a story of a couple who are 85 years old who tragically die in a car accident.  Up until this point, mostly owing to the wife’s conscientious habits, they had been pretty healthy right up until the end.  Well, in any event, when they reach heaven, St. Peter gives them a grand tour.  Their mansion where they were to stay was decked out with a beautiful kitchen, an exquisite bedroom suite, and a jacuzzi.  The old man wondered how much it would cost: “No cost. This is heaven,” said St. Peter.  Next, they went outside to survey the golf course that was located in their backyard.  “What are the green fees?” the old man asked.  “This is heaven, you play for free,” St. Peter said.  “And here,” he continued, “is the clubhouse, where there are decadent foods from all over the world.”  The old man asked where the low cholesterol and low-fat tables were.  St. Peter answered, “that’s the best part – you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like, and you never get fat, and you never get sick and you don’t have to pay for a thing.  This is heaven!”  With that the old man went into a fit of anger, threw down his hat, and began stomping around.  “What’s wrong?” asked St. Peter… “This is all your fault!” the old man declared to his wife.  “If it wasn’t for your blasted bran muffins, we could have been here 10, 15 years ago.”

Like this old man, St. Paul recognizes the supreme good of going to heaven.  It’s even better than the rainbows and unicorns and clouds that we imagined when we were kids.  And by comparison, when we stop and think about it, there’s more to life than health or money or fame, important as we make these things out to be.  We have to realize that we are not meant for this world, that there is something better for us in store, and that our wages here could never satisfy us.  While he is writing his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul is in prison, and he recognizes that death is a very real possibility for him.  Reflecting on his life and the purpose of his life, St. Paul is correct in maintaining that it is indeed better to die and go to the Lord; that is our life’s goal after all.  But he is also correct in his attitude, that in so much as we are still living in this world and laboring in this vineyard, then we still have good work to do for our own salvation and for the salvation of others.  Living for heaven is really the only worthwhile way to measure out our life’s worth, and that is why St. Paul concludes that whatever our circumstances are, that we would all conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he says.

And the Gospel today is a tough one for us to hear because when we hear that everyone receives the same amount, we can feel cheated.  Why is it that we are we happy only on the condition that others are unhappy… Why is it that we want mercy for ourselves but not for others… How do we know that other people’s lives, unwanted by everyone else, unemployed and useless, is such much more comfortable?  This Gospel reveals for us, I think, that there are really two ways of interacting with others and measuring out our worth.  On the one hand we can be transactional people, which is generally the way the world tends to treat each other, or we can also be relational people which is how God interacts with us.  

What does it mean to be transactional?  What does a transactional relationship look like?  A transactional relationship is where two or more parties exchange goods so that each can get what they want.  An employee and an employer exchange work for wages.  Each side gets something that they need in this transaction.  A producer and a consumer sell and buy, perhaps with some middle management in between, of desired goods and services for money.  Friends with benefits is a sort of transactional relationship where each person is useful to the other but is not necessarily invested in them.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some real strengths to transactional relationships in our society that help us to navigate life in very practical ways. It’s how we provide for our families. It’s how we get work done.  It’s how we establish expectations and boundaries.  It’s how we obtain some protection for ourselves from emotional and personal attachments.  But transactional relationships are based on conditions, and when products or services or policies or people don’t live up to our standards then we go after each other to get our due, and this is incredibly exhausting we struggle to keep up with the many demands that are placed upon us.  People are reduced to objects and when the conditions of our transactions disappear well then so does the relationship – subconsciously we say I will love you as long as you are beautiful, are a good cook, your health is fine, that you agree with my values. We are a very transactional society.

Now in the Gospel, God does live up to his promises and the people he contracted with indeed received their due.  No one was cheated in what they agreed to.  God honors our transactions and allows for these.  But we are reminded that God’s ways are above our ways.  God also reveals that we can treat each other relationally, that there is such a thing as love given without conditions, that is given as a gift without expecting anything in return.  The emphasis is not on oneself and what’s good for me and what do I get, but rather the focus is on others and what’s good for them and how they can benefit.  St. Paul, in so much as he was still laboring in God’s vineyard on earth, knew that while he certainly longed for the better life of heaven, that he remained in the flesh, he says, was more necessary for our benefit.  Love doesn’t calculate or count the costs.  God is revealed in our Gospel parable as more than an employer, but a benefactor and a sponsor, and a generous one at that.  He wants to live in relationship with us, even when others put us out on the streets so to speak. We don’t have to prove or earn anything. His love is unconditional. The Kingdom of Heaven is like this, Jesus says.  In transactional terms, in terms of wages: it’s the same wage.  Either you receive it, or you don’t.  You can’t have more or less of heaven.  Heaven is perfect as it is, and, with St. Paul and that old man from our story, God, I can’t wait until I get there.  But at the end of the day, there is nothing that you can exchange to obtain it.  Heaven is not a transaction.  It is a grace of God, and therefore, the only way we can enter into it and receive it for the gift that it truly is, is to stop merely treating each other with this transactional mindset and start treating each other relationally.  Do you feel exploited between competing demands placed on you in a transactional world?  Do you want to have satisfying relationships and learn how to love more?  Would you like to experience what it’s like to be thankful and appreciative for the things you have and at the same time discover the joys of generosity and giving and making somebody else’s life worthwhile, then stop treating each other transactionally and start treating each other relationally, as God does

Fr. Luke's Sermon- September 17, 2023

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight… Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD?  Words from our first reading today from the 27th chapter of the book of Sirach – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

Anger is a common phenomenon and part of being human.  As an emotion, it’s a natural response to something that’s out of place.  Certainly, we wouldn’t be angry if everything was going well.  It’s when things aren’t going well that we get upset.  And that we become angry reveals that deep inside we care about the outcome, and that we are not indifferent to what’s happening around us and that’s a good thing.  Imagine if something went wrong, and we couldn’t care less.  It is then that we dull our senses and shut everything out.  We say cynically “whatever,” and the problem remains unresolved and unattended to.  And so, when things go wrong, I tell you it’s ok to feel angry, it’s good that we care.  The problem, however, isn’t so much that we feel angry but it’s what we do with our anger that can often get us into trouble.    

Because the truth is we can use anger as motivation to make things better.  If the Bills or Sabres lost their game and were beaten pretty badly, they should be upset about it, and that could become a great impetus to hit the gym and practice more and look at their effort so as to produce better results the next game.  But channeling that anger in healthy ways isn’t always so easy.  More often the not we take our frustrations out on others.  We use it as a pretext for a lack of respect.  We end up saying things that are hurtful and that we regret, even if we are justified in making such a comment, and we find that our actions don’t make the situation better but only increase the problems we have and the tensions we are a part of.  And if we bottle up our anger and don’t take care of it, then it builds into resentment.  Ever find yourself in the heat of the moment saying to someone else, “you never listen to me, you’re always making a mess of things.”  I’m sure that there are times when we do listen attentively to each other, and maybe we don’t always make a mess of things, but it’s our resentment speaking and all that unresolved anger from the past that we’ve been holding onto that’s coming out.  When we stew about these things, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Sirach reminds us: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight… Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing to come?”  We are relational people, and so we have to figure out how to deal with each other when we become angry.  We have to make sure that we are keeping our anger in check, that we are not taking it out on other people, that we find healthy ways to resolve our issues and regulate our emotions and express what we are looking for because we do care and we do want things to be better.  It’s frustrating, sometimes, I know.  We all have something that we are working on.  

When we struggle with anger and irritation, we tend to think that we’ll never be saints. Did the saints ever lose their tempers?  St. Francis de Sales was so gentle in his disposition that no one would ever have known that he had a naturally quick temper. He had identified his proclivity to anger, worked on it, and gradually mastered it. He was not perfect, but he pursued perfection, and it showed. His spiritual approach—illustrated in such classics as Introduction to the Devout Life—has assisted countless souls in their journey to sanctity.  St. Jerome, too, had a fiery temper—a natural result of an intense personality. He even got into some arguments with St. Augustine (they later patched things up). But Jerome knew his fault and strove to conquer it—and did severe penance for it. St. Thérèse is honest in her writings about the temptations against charity which she experienced at Carmel. In The Story of a Soul, she tells of the manifold irritations and contradictions she met in community life. She transformed them into stepping stones to holiness by viewing them as opportunities for grace.  Being a saint isn’t about being flawless. It’s about working on flaws—and using them as opportunities for perfection. If you’re honest about your faults and take concrete steps to correct them, you’ve already taken a giant leap toward sanctity.

In the midst of all of this we need to be patient with each other.  That is what the petitioners in the Gospel ask for – please be Patient with Me and I will pay you back in full they say.  When we are dealing with things and fall short of the mark, all of this would like this graciousness extended to ourselves as well.  And if we would like this for ourselves, it is only fair that we should extend the same graciousness in turn to others, indeed as many times as is necessary to have healed our hearts of the anger that we are made to feel, for we can see what happens when forgiveness is granted and when it is not.  

I would like to leave you with this poem today which came by me a couple of years ago when I was reflecting on this passage.  And there are copies of it available at the entrances if you would like to take it with you.  Maybe it will help you with being patient with each other so that in place of anger we may find gratitude and peace.

Be Patient With Me

Rev. Luke P. Uebler II


“Be Patient With Me”

Says the master’s servant,

Says the servant’s servant,

Says the evangelist Matthew on these servants’ lips 

On behalf of everyone who has ever spoken these words:

“Be Patient With Me”

If for no other reason than we would like to receive the patience of others ourselves

Amid the hasty judgments, the justified grudges, the immediacy of things.

So much tension, pulled in directions differing, the spiral growing forever unresolved,

What help could counter this demanding culture?

“Be Patient With Me”

No phrase better articulates my dilemma.

Would that I could be enough, let alone infinite, eternal, powerful, godly…

No! Don’t tempt me, shortcomings abound, inevitably;

I’m sorry that this indebted, limited being still dares to ask for more;

“Be Patient With Me”

I need your patience in my predicament.

Though, truly, I recognize it is our predicament, 

The patience, the patior, the suffering being yours too,

While shared unequally - the responsibility now doubly mine, so

“Be Patient With Me”

Earnestly, it’s not my intention to exploit, I want to pay you back, in full 

Excepting that precious resource – time – borrowed anew, yet again, never to be returned

I pray, spent willingly in forbearance of others and the faults belonging to them 

This patient compassion, this suffering with (read: love), is time well spent.  When you can

 “Be Patient With Me”

We find that patience is a virtue after all,

Though never repaid in kind, it does kindness repay.

For there is something new and transformed here if we would accept it…  A sweet indebtedness!

Alas, it is a lie to think we could ever go back to the way it was before. 

“Be Patient With Me”

As often as 7 times

77 times, indeed time and time again,

As often as is necessary and more because only then

Oh, only then, as I pay back your patience with me

how eternal the gratefulness must be!

Fr. Luke's Sermon- September 10, 2023

“Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”  Words from the 13th chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

We know that love is expressed in a variety of ways, and St. Paul singles out four of them.  Love is faithful to its commitments, and it respects the commitments of others, so adultery or any other form of sexual infidelity is out of the question.  Love holds life in high regard; it overcomes anger and revenge and does nothing that compromises the dignity of the human person.  Love respects the property of others, and so it will not condone stealing or dishonesty of any kind.  Love honors the rights of other people and so it does not entertain thoughts of covetousness or jealousy.  St. Paul singles out only four commandments, but he insists that love covers all other commandments as well.  When one truly loves another, one desires only what is good for them.  This is precisely what Paul is saying here.  Love is the fulfillment of the law.  It’s easier said than done though.  We know that we don’t always love as we should.  A given of the human condition is that people will inevitably offend and hurt each other.  

Whenever this happens, we have a responsibility to find ways to be reconciled with those who have become estranged, especially in our parish, in our workplaces, and in our schools, and in our families.  Our readings today reveal for us that it is our job to safeguard our relationships rather than let them languish.  Our readings reveal to us that our role is to be Watchman, a Reconciler, and a Peacemaker.  How do we act in that capacity?  We may be good at establishing relationships, but how do we do in maintaining them?  Do we give quality time to our spouse and family?  Do we act in our loved ones’ best interest or our own?  Are there people we are putting off and pushing away?  How many of us make an effort to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation when things do get off course?  Indeed, it is God himself who leads us in the way of reconciliation.  Although humanity has turned away from God, Jesus has restored us to right relationship with the Father.  Just so, the Spirit today prompts us Christians to follow Christ’s example in bringing about reconciliation and restoring harmony in our personal relationships.  Just as love is the fulfillment of the law, so too is love the fulfillment of the work of reconciliation.  Love is patient, love is kind.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  Love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things.  We often hear these words of St. Paul at weddings but isn’t it incredible how much these words of love apply to reconciliation as well!  

Again, it is easier said than done.  For example, we don’t like to admit that we are in the wrong, let alone think that we could be wrong.  Instead of truly apologizing, many times our efforts at reconciliation come across more so as a defense and justification for our actions or we end up making excuses for ourselves.  And yet, if the first thing we owed them was our love, then I imagine that our apologies would be much more sincere and we would try harder to make things right.  On the other hand, we don’t like to confront those who have wronged us.  In our hurt, we judge their intentions or end up angrily insulting them for their mistakes.  If we are afraid to confront them directly, we complain about them to everyone else behind their backs or on social media or organize a cancellation of them in an attempt to get our due.  All of these things only make matters worse for the relationship.  It’s ironic that after being so vindictive towards them and their behavior, we still expect them to be our friends.  And yet, if the first thing we owed them was our love, then I imagine that we would be better at turning the other cheek and trying to understand them.  Whether we are the ones at fault or not, every step of reconciliation requires courage and a desire for unity before all else.  In short, it requires love.    

The process for reconciliation outlined in our Gospel today starts with each person going to each other directly, individually.  It is this step that is hardest of all, and all too often it is bypassed in favor of running up the chain of command to solve our interpersonal problems.  We need to learn how to do a better job on that personal level of things.  So, I would like to pass along today a communication skill that can help us be more loving when we approach each other with a need for reconciliation.  This skill is called an “I-message.”  Quite simply an “I-message” goes like this: I feel ___ when___ because___.  An example would sound like this: “I feel ignored when you don’t call me because I value our friendship.”  Doesn’t that carry an entirely different tone than: “You don’t care about our friendship” or “You never call me; you always ignore my texts” or “How much do you talk to your other friends”?  When we accuse others or send solutions or avoid those things which concern us, we are putting up roadblocks to communication.  The “I-message” skill on the other hand, minimizes the risk of confrontation because I talk about myself and my feelings and not about the other person, which can make them defensive.  As for me, I’m anxious when I talk in front of people because I am not sure how I am received and I know that I crave acceptance.  It’s something I’m working on.  It can have positive connotations too.  I feel excited at the start of the new school year because there is life and energy that just picks me up.  Talking about myself in this way with “I-Messages” subtly opens the door to a response and actually invites the other person to talk about himself or herself.  It’s not always easy to say I’m scared or puzzled because we all like to look good in the eyes of others.  It takes a lot of patience and practice.  And I promise you this becomes more natural and less scripted when we learn to do this well.  But if we can talk to and love each other in this way, at this interpersonal level, then reconciliation can happen.  “I feel____ when____ because.”   Give it a try.  It may help you communicate better.

The reality that Jesus presents us with today is the fact that the community and its members have a great power to bind and to loose on earth, and indeed whatever grievances are bound here will likewise be bound in heaven.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Love never fails.  If we can do that with one another, and make the movement towards reconciliation in love, we can unite heaven and earth.  Christ will be in our midst.  “Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” 

Fr. Luke's Sermon- September 3, 2023

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”  Words from our 2nd reading today from the 12th chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

Did you know that there are 2 priesthoods in the Catholic Church?  There is, on the one hand, the ministerial priesthood, which is conferred through the Sacrament of Holy Orders - so this would include Fr. Dan, Fr. Ivan, myself, other priests you’ve known…  And you see how we offer up our livelihood in the service of God’s people and offer the sacraments on behalf of Christ’s Church.  But there is also another priesthood: the priesthood of all believers, which all of us, each and every one of us participates in by virtue of our Baptism.  At our baptism, each of us were anointed on our heads with sacred chrism and at that moment we were pronounced to be a priest, a prophet, a king for the world, just like Jesus was.  But what does it mean to share in the priesthood of all believers?  Whereas the job description of every priest is to offer sacrifice, your job as a baptized person is thus is to offer up yourself, your whole being, as “a living sacrifice to God our spiritual worship,” as St. Paul said today.

In the prayers during the offertory of the Mass, I say: ‘pray brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.’  This should give us pause to ask ourselves, ‘By virtue of my own priesthood, what is it that I am bringing to be offered to God in the sacrifice of the Mass?’  In the offertory, we place bread and wine upon the altar, but symbolically, we ourselves are also offering our prayers for others, our daily labors, what is on our hearts and minds, our works of mercy towards others.  We bring our vocations as a husband or wife, father or mother, we bring our families, our joys and disappointments, our loneliness and trials.  You’re worried about the state of our country and the politics of this world – put it on the altar.  You’re grateful for good health especially after a pandemic – offer up your thanksgiving to God.  Earlier this week, you sacrificed your time to help out your neighbor – bring that act of love to God today and let it be transformed into his glory.  It is said, he who does not sacrifice for another is hardly in love (2x).  Belonging to the priesthood of all the faithful, you have a lot of love to offer and share.  This is how we offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice.  As we follow in Jesus’ way and as we take up our own crosses, we unite them to the cross of Jesus and we participate in his one perfect offering to the Father.  My job as a ministerial priest is to gather all these, your sacrifices, the sacrifices you make by virtue of belonging to the Body of Christ, and offer them all to God the Father in Christ’s name.  When the gifts, the crucifix, and altar are incensed during the offertory, the celebrant and the entire congregation are also incensed by the deacon giving further image to how we are all united in our priesthood and are offered up together in the one sacrifice of Christ in the consecration.  

As it is, God wants to give us everything! God wants to give us everything but can only work with what we freely give over to Him.  To those who say, “I don’t get anything out of attending Mass,” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen would answer, “It’s because you must bring something to it.”  To illustrate this, let me tell you the story of the chicken and the pig.  

Once Upon a Time, a Chicken and a Pig lived on a farm. The farmer was very good to them and they both wanted to do something good for him.  One day the chicken approached the pig and said, “I have a great idea for something we can do for the farmer! Would you like to help?” The pig, quite intrigued by this, said, "of course! What is it that you propose?"  The chicken knew how much the farmer enjoyed a good healthy breakfast especially since he often did not have time to make something up.  “I think the farmer would be very happy if we made him breakfast.  Perhaps we could provide him with ham and eggs.”  The pig, very mindful of what this implied, said, “that's fine, but realize while you're only making a contribution, I'm making a real commitment!”

The offertory at Mass here is more than just taking up the collection and simply making a contribution to the church and her charitable causes.  Symbolically, we are bringing everything about us to the altar and offering the gift of our very selves on the paten and in the chalice.  Disciples look more like the pig from our farm story and less like the chicken.  Disciples cannot simply be involved.  As Disciples, we need to be committed.  Disciples are willing to offer up the gift of themselves in loving service of God and their neighbor like Jesus was.  Disciples are formed and grow in this life-giving commitment by their very participation in the Eucharist, and they let that commitment carry over into their whole livelihood.   In the words of Bishop Richard F. Stika: During the consecration, we sanctify our offering through him, with him and in him.  With the words of Christ — ‘This is my Body… This is the Chalice of my Blood’ — we also participate in Christ’s offering, realizing in part that, ‘this, too, is my body… this, too, is my blood!’, that it is together our sacrifice, our praise and adoration, our thanksgiving “through Him, with Him, and in Him, and that in this offering we ourselves are changed along with the bread and wine into the Body of Christ.  (This is why I always sing the doxology, by the way).  This is what the offertory is all about.  It is this disposition of our willingness to offer ourselves in love as a living sacrifice to God our spiritual worship that best prepares us for Holy Communion along with the graces that we receive from it.   

Moral of the story.  When it comes to living your faith, don’t be a chicken; don’t lay an egg.  The Catholic Christian, by their baptism, by their priesthood, is committed like the pig to taking up their cross and following after Jesus, because the true disciple offers themselves as a living sacrifice to God their spiritual worship.  And as a result, when we come to the Eucharist, when we put our whole selves on that altar together with the Lord, we are thus transformed by our offering into the very Body of Christ to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Fr. Luke's Sermon- August 27, 2023

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Words from our Gospel today from the 16th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew - sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

I had the privilege some years ago of attending one of Matthew Kelly’s Rediscovering Catholicism talks and got to meet him in person when I was studying at the seminary in Erie, Pennsylvania.  And one of the things he said, and I’ll never forget it, was “Our lives are the answer to the questions we’ve been asked (2x).”  If I was to ask you, “Are you a Bills fan?  Are you allergic to peanuts?  Where do you see yourself in ten years?” then I would imagine, your lifestyle would provide an answer to those questions for you.  If you're passionate about the Bills, I imagine that you watch the games on Sundays... and obviously if you are allergic you would be conscious about what you eat. And if you wanted to become a doctor, my guess is that you would be working on a medical degree.  In any of these cases, our answer’s integrity, our authenticity to who we are is at stake by the way we live our life.  You can’t say that you are a Bills fan if you root for the Miami Dolphins or Tom Brady.  If you were allergic to nuts, that nutty butty sundae better not be an option for dessert.  And if you wanted to become a doctor, then we would begin to wonder if you were signed up for a major in mechanical engineering.  

Let’s take this a step further.  Just as our lives are the answer to the questions we’ve been asked, then great people have ways of asking great questions - questions not just about trivial things, but questions that make us stop and think about those things that really matter, like, “what is life about?  Does this relationship mean anything to you?  Or even the question Jesus asks in the Gospel today, "Who do you say that I am?” There’s a lot at stake in these questions, and the direction of our lives very much hinges on how we go about living out those answers.  It’s something that you build a foundation on.  

Indeed, Jesus began today by asking a pretty nondescript question, “who do others say that I am?” to which he receives a pretty standard objective response, some say Elijah, some say John the Baptist, or still one of the prophets... You know they actually did random street interviews in New York City of passers by not too long ago - you can see this on youtube - and people gave the following answers: “He was a historical figure, a normal person like us, he was a marketing genius because he got people to believe him, I don’t know who he is, if David Copperfield was in the day of Jesus he would be Jesus, I’m pretty sure he existed, symbol of ultimate forgiveness, a messenger, he was enlightened, he saw something in other people that most don’t see; he became the founder of Christianity, he had a peaceful philosophy and is misinterpreted by a lot of people, a modern day scapegoat…”  Such are the answers of a secular world, and as such, it should come as no surprise that people live the way that they do, devoid of faith, because Jesus is seemingly inconsequential to their lives.  Who do others say that Jesus is: there’s lots of opinions out there, there always has been.

But, Jesus goes deeper, and he makes it personal and he asks a great question, one that not just his disciples but all of us have to answer for ourselves.  He asks, “who do you say that I am?  Am I just like everybody else?  Am I nobody in particular? Am I one prophet among many or even just a great person? Who do you say that I am? Who am I to you?”  If we answer, like Peter, “Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of God,” our lifestyle should match that answer.  Our lives should answer that question for us. Do people look at you and see that you are a Christian, that you have a relationship with the Son of God, that he means something to you and that knowing Jesus adds something to your life, that you’ve built your life around him?  Peter’s answer allowed Jesus to build the very foundation of his Church on their relationship and he was blessed because of it.  What would our answer allow God to bring about for our lives?

I remember the first time I had to take stock of Jesus’ question back in the 6th grade.  My teacher, Ms. Fusco, recognized that I had a good knowledge of the faith as a kid, and she asked me – “How do you know all this stuff about God?”  It was a great question. At the time, I didn’t know how to answer her; I didn’t realize how much I absorbed by simply coming to church; but it was the question that stuck with me.  I had to go deeper.  And in my journey to discover how I knew so much about God as a 6th grader, I realized that this Christian life we lead is more than just about knowing God up here and what all these people say about Jesus.  It’s about knowing God, in here, in the heart, that it comes down to a relationship.  Who is Jesus to me?  Jesus is the compassionate love of the Father, making present that love in person to get me through all the circumstances of life both on the happy and joyful days as well as in the challenging and sorrowful ones.  And in that answer, I found a purpose.  I want to spend my life inviting people into such a relationship with Jesus Christ and to show people where God is at work in their lives, loving them through... That doesn’t mean I always get it right, and I know and I can see that there are folks in these pews with a greater faith and spiritual life than myself, but I trust and believe and follow Jesus as best as I can so that I could open this door to others and love them through in turn.  

Who do you say that I am?  Each of us is invited to have a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ, and our faith, our holiness, our spirituality, our life itself depends upon our answer.  It will build the foundation of our lives.  There’s a lot at stake here, should we like not to be bound only to this earth but loosed into eternal life with our heavenly Father.  Our lives are the answers to the questions we’ve been asked.  Priesthood, Married life, religious life, single life; lectoring, Eucharistic Ministers, Ushers, Altar Servers, Musicians and Singers; volunteers at a soup kitchen, counselors, catechists, teachers, first responders, doctors, secretaries, business owners, librarians, retired persons; poor persons, persons with disabilities; kids, adults - all these and more can live out the answer that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  Indeed, there are as many good ways to answer Jesus’ question as there are saints.  (Think about that… 2x).  Who do you say that Jesus is?  How does your lifestyle reflect that?  What is God asking of your life?  Hopefully our manner of living answers for us: “Jesus – I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the living God - let me build my life on you.”

Keys… keys to the kingdom… sign of authority, responsibility for family, with great power comes great responsibility

  • Eliakim to get keys
  • Peter to get keys

Has power to bind and loose, forgiveness of sins

Church stands on this rock, bishops are successors

The gates of the netherworld… 

Who do you say that I am, a personal question all of us must answer