Twenty-first Sunday Year A: Experience of the mystery is the heart of Catholicism.

Matthew 16:13-20

The not very threatening “who do people say I am?” becomes the far more threatening “who do you say I am?”

Jesus is addressing the same question to us every time we read this piece whether we read it privately or as we do today, publicly here in St. Senans; “who do you say I am?”

The logical response to being able to say with Peter that the historical figure of Jesus is “the son of the living God” is to do exactly what Peter did… to make Jesus Christ your life and to become his missionary in the world.

Jesus says it’s not flesh and blood that effects this recognition (in you and I) but his Father in heaven. This is a very mysterious element in Catholicism but although mysterious it’s also central and without it Catholicism falls… flat!

In fact, every rejection of Catholicism is at heart the absence of this mysterious element.

It’s an absence that’s very evident in the Church’s missionary effort here in Ireland.

The Church expends huge effort celebrating baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage, funerals and a whole lot more besides, but often in the practical everyday celebration of these events I sense there’s something missing, there’s plenty of “flesh and blood” effort but often (usually?) we’re not connecting with that which Jesus describes as “not flesh and blood”, the mysterious element that convicted Peter and changed his life. They’re events rather than encounters!

When people say they’re bored with everything the Church has to offer all they’re really saying is that they’ve yet to discover this mysterious element.

The presence or absence of this mysterious element described by Jesus as “not flesh and blood” explains so much about our attitudes towards the Catholic Church.

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