Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 23, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Is 22:19-23 / Ps 138 / Rom 11:33-36 / Mt 16:13-20
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
Many people love to watch television, but ever since I got high speed internet eight years ago, I have to confess I very rarely turn on my TV to actually watch something coming over the air (except for football.) I have Netflix; I’ve got Amazon Prime; and I do watch those. But the thing I probably watch the most is YouTube, because I love YouTube.
Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a video about it. You can learn some amazing stuff. I’ve been doing some automotive body work, and I’ve learned so much by watching videos.
While I generally watch videos that are instructional or informative, occasionally you’ll see a video that’s just plain funny. The other day I saw a cute video. It was little kids being interviewed, and the interviewer asked them, “So, tell us what your parents do at work.” Their responses were priceless.
One little girl said, “My mom bosses people around and tells them what to do.” Another little boy says, “All my dad does is sit at a computer and write email all day.” Another little boy said, “My daddy gets to sit at the computer and just play on the computer all day long.” Wouldn’t that be great, if that’s what you got to do?
But it got me to thinking. These little kids, in their beautiful little way, really had no clue what their parents did when they were at work. And it kind of reminded me of us, trying to answer the question, Who is God?
Civilizations throughout history have had differing opinions on who God is. Aristotle described God as “the unmoved mover,” the one that initiated everything into motion, but was not put into motion by anything else.
Others believed that God was the forces they saw around them: the sun or the sea. Others believed that there were multiple gods: There was the god of war, the god of love, Bacchus, the god of partying. And so this varied all over the place.
In fact, in some civilizations, people believed that their leader was a god. The ancient Egyptians had their pharaohs, or the Romans with their emperor. I have a pretty good guess that that’s why Jesus made the trek with His disciples all the way from the Sea of Galilee up to Caesarea, Philippi. Because Caesarea, Philippi was a city built to the glory of Caesar Augustus.
It’s an appropriate backdrop for the question that He asks: “Who do people say that I am?” This is an important question, even for us. While, in the end, we can probably come no closer to describing God than these little kids come to describing what their parents do at work, it’s an important exercise.
But why do I need to do that? I think it’s important because, for us, God is a trinity: one God, three persons. God was incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. “And who do you say that I am?” That’s an important question.
It can be very confusing. The more you think about it, the more complicated it can get. But I like the way John simplified it in his first letter, when he quite simply stated that God is love. And love is to will the good of the other. So that brings on an entirely new significance to the directive to love your neighbor as yourself. Because, quite simply put, that means, will the good of your neighbor, just in the same way that God does.
Brothers and sisters, imagine what a wonderful world we would live in if each and every Christian could manage to do that.