HOMILY – 24th SUNDAY [B] 2018

The sport I’ve most enjoyed playing is tennis.  After a game, and still in tennis gear, I often called on friends nearby who were after-school caregivers for their 7-year old grandson.  They told me, after several visits, that they’d explained to the young lad that I was a priest.  He said, Oh, is that what he is.  I thought he just played tennis.

When Peter identified Jesus: You are the Christ! he was going by appearance without knowing the real Jesus.  The Christ – God’s anointed one, the Messiah – was expected by the Jews as someone who would rise up as a champion leader and return the nation to its former glory.

Peter and the other disciples thought they’d found the Messiah in Jesus.  That’s why James and John would rush in with their request to be at the right and left hand of Jesus in is kingdom.  They all wanted positions of power and control.  But they didn’t know Jesus at all – shown so clearly when Jesus explains his mission as one that would bring division and rejection, suffering and death.  The shell-shocked Peter tries to talk sense into Jesus, only to be told:  You’ve got it all wrong, Peter.  Don’t tempt me – follow me!

How well do you know Jesus?  Who is he for you?  There’s always a risk that we make Jesus into what we want him to be – or expect him to be.

This week I’ve been in Christchurch with priests from our six dioceses reflecting on this and related questions.  In this time of crisis in the Church we have to ask: have we forgotten Jesus?  Have we put down the cross and let others carry it for us?  Have we been more concerned with authority and control rather than service?

The crisis, though very sad and sorrowful, brings an opportunity to re-examine our relationship with Jesus; to link action with our faith; to see Jesus for who he really is, and to follow him through the rejection and the cynicism of our secular world, to renewal, new life and boundless hope.