In the second reading, Saint Paul realizes—
and he is awed by the thought—
that God’s Plan for saving the human race will come to pass,
despite all that seems to stand in the way.
Consider: in this year of our Lord 2023,
Christians are spread throughout the world;
Over one billion Catholics,
another billion other Christians.
The Church is growing rapidly in Asia and Africa.
While Christians continue to be persecuted to this day,
we have parishes and schools,
universities, and hospitals, endowments,
seminaries and religious orders.
Sure, we have plenty of problems, but compare our situation to Paul’s.
When Paul wrote these words,
the number of Christians, everywhere,
was in the thousands—
spread thin from Rome to Jerusalem.
Some were wealthy, most were dirt-poor – many were slaves.
They met in secret; they were despised and hunted.
How often, we fear and wring our hands;
Paul, in his time, said: to God be glory forever!
It’s all about perspective.
It has been a while, but sometimes I visit people in jail.
As I was about to give an inmate the Eucharist, I said,
this is a dark place, you have lost so much;
but I’m about to give you the Body and Blood of the Lord.
His flesh and blood, united to yours.
You will be Christ in this place!
And no one can take that away from you!
We believe in and experience Christ’s presence here…
In jail, you really feel His Power there!
To witness such moments
makes me so grateful I am a priest.
Here’s the challenge for us:
Do you and I have to be behind bars before we experience this?
Shall we wait till we lose our jobs, our health, our homes,
before we can know this gratitude and peace in the Lord?
While hard times often “force” us
out of the shallows, and into the depth,
even so, the opportunity to enter the Deep
is always before us.
The tools you and I have are so powerful – if we use them.
A daily routine of prayer, it doesn’t have to be a burden.
Examining our conscience regularly, and regular confession.
Pray the Rosary. Keep the Lords Day.
Notice, it’s not a matter of what we know;
how many great saints were simple folk.
It doesn’t have to wait for us to finish school
or raise our family, or retire from our jobs:
saints are made at all ages,
in family life, in the workplace and in prisons.
In the Gospel, the Lord asks all the Apostles;
but only one dared respond, “You are the Christ!”
May I submit that, for probably most of us,
the greatest challenge we face as Christians
is not opposition; not health or money issues.
Threatening as these are,
beyond all this is a far greater danger:
that most of us, most of the time,
won’t be forced into the Deep;
so we happily splash around in the shallows.
Right at this moment, you and I know
his question for Peter is for us, too:
Who do you say that I am?
It’s not an intellectual challenge; it’s not a test.
It is simply a choice:
Who am I…to you?
What will you do with Me?
Will you follow me?