Blessed Sacrament Parish
Homily by Father Mike Kuse
June 29, 2014 Saints Peter and Paul
10 AM Service
Gospel Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
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.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
If you were going to make our your will tomorrow morning, who would you ask to be the executor of your estate and be in charge of your health? Most people would probably say, my wife, my husband, a son, a daughter, or a brother or sister. It would be rather unusual for you to go up to someone at the Mall and casually say to someone in Bergner’s, “I don’t have long to live and I am making out my will. Would you mind being the executor of my will and be in charge of my health?
That person would just look at you and say, “I don’t really know you.”
“Oh, that doesn’t really make any difference.”
“I’m sorry,” the person answers. “I don’t really feel comfortable.”
But if someone who knows you, and you know them, and the question is there — it is altogether different. More important, it is not about your house and money, it’s going to be about your health. Who is going to have the final say?
This morning as we celebrate the feast of Peter and Paul it takes that question to a whole new level. Jesus now is going to go home to the Father and he wants someone to make sure his church succeeds. When Jesus is talking about his church, he is not envisioning all the churches and cathedrals that have been built in two thousand years.
He envisioned someone who understood his message: that you really need to lay down your life, and that you need to experience the dying and the rising throughout your life.
So this morning, he would come to us and say, “In order for my church to survive, I just need to ask you this. Do you love me?”
“Sure, everybody loves you.”
“Do you really love me?”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure I do?”
“Let me get this straight, do you love me? Because what I am going to ask you to do I don’t want any flakes around. I want people who understand the message that we are all called to be children of God, and you will go forth and you will invite everyone to receive that, and you will give them the same Spirit that I give you. So that is why I am asking, do you love me?”
If anyone knows us — it is God. God knows us inside and out. He could walk into an Alzheimer’s Unit of any nursing home in the country and walk to each person and say, “Do you love me?” He might get a blank stare but he would still ask, “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” Because God can see way beyond anything on the outside he would know exactly that this person would say, “Yes.”
God could also come to a big celebration where everybody is happy and everybody is having a great time. And he could ask the crowd, “Do you love me?”
“Sure, have a drink with us.”
“No. I want to know — do you really love me?”
“Yeah. We’ve got plenty of food. Come sit down.”
“No. I want to know — do you really love me?”
Then finally somebody says, “I don’t think this is a joke. I think he’s really touching our hearts and he wants something of us. Are we ready to give what he is asking?”
Peter and Paul were both martyred for their faith because they said, “Yes, I do love you.” But what Jesus is saying to Peter, “It’s not because I think your great, Peter, it’s because I know when you said ‘Jesus is the son of the living God’ — God gave you that message to say and that was my sign that you are the one. You denied me. You said you loved me and then you denied me. Then you made fun of me. But deep down I know you really love me.
That’s not putting a burden on us. It’s putting a challenge on us every day to take up our cross, to live our lives, and to just know that if it’s God kingdom — do I trust God enough? If we keep saying over and over, “Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Yes, yes, Lord,” then Jesus will say, “You do have the message. It’s not only on your lips but it’s in your heart.
So as we look around we celebrate this feast day by looking at parents, and children,
by looking at friends and family, our parish family, and just saying, “You know, I may not show it but deep down in my heart I do know God. And I love God enough that I would put everything else aside so that Christ can be in your life.”
So this week — listen — because God, over and over again, is always saying to each one of us, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you really love me?
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.