23  August 2020: Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

by FR. Clyde, Parochial Vicar


A story is told about an elderly man with a bloated ego who went to the gym and asked the trainer in that gym what kind of machine he should use in order to impress all the beautiful-young-girls around him.

The trainer’s answer was: “Sir, at your age of 75, the most effective machine for you to use is the ATM machine outside the gym. Surely, young-beautiful-girls will get attracted to you.”

My brothers and sisters, in today’s Gospel, we hear the Lord Jesus asking His disciples this question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Obviously, unlike the elderly man in the story I related to you earlier, Jesus has no “self-image” problem or identity crisis. Surely, not.

He asked this question because He wanted to know the depth of His disciple’s perception and understanding about Him. Jesus wanted to measure the knowledge of His disciples about HIM. Jesus wanted to make sure that His disciples are fully equipped with the knowledge and wisdom about HIM, the one whom the disciples follow and love.

Today, it’s as if the Lord Jesus is asking us, “and you, who do you say that I am?” It might just be a very simple question but the answer requires an intimate, loving, deeper, personal and meaningful relationship or experience with the Lord.

Let us bear in mind that the word “you” appears nine times in today’s gospel. This underlines the importance of a personal commitment and a personal involvement without which religion becomes just a burden, or just a show. 

According to one priest and author, “A personal relationship must lead to mission and action. A cozy-cozy, nice-nice romantic feeling is necessary to start and to maintain a relationship, but a relationship too caught up in itself soon dies. Love must overflow into concrete actions. Love cannot be exclusive. It must be expressive.”

The Most common answer to that question of the Lord is: “Jesus is my Lord, my God and my friend and I love Him.” And I really wonder if people really understood this statement during these, our modern times. Because as far as I know, our Love for the Lord should impel us to love others as well.

Let always keep in mind that our greatest agenda in this world are not things, but people, and that what matters most in the end is not what we hold in our hands but what we hold in our hearts.”

But what do we see around us today? We see the total opposite.

We see discrimination. We see divisiveness. We see selfishness. We see corruption. We see individualism. We see hatred and violence. We see scattered families. We see nations fighting against other nations. We see materialism – of people wanting more and more…

All of these represent to the fact that a lot of people now-a-days do not really know who and what God is. Because if they do, we shall never see a single “homeless” person begging on streets.

During this difficult and hard time of the pandemic, a lot of us are confused and worried, and still others are hoarding – thinking that the world is about to come to an end. But this is also an opportunity for us to reach-out rather than to close our arms and doors. Let others see the merciful face of Jesus in us. Let others feel the helping hand of Jesus in our hands. Let others feel the healing touch of Jesus in our touch. Let others see Jesus in and through us.

Think about this prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola: “Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve. To give and not to count the cost. To fight and not to heed the wounds. To toil and not to seek for rest. To labor and not to ask for reward, except to know that I am doing your will.”

 And think about this prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offence, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.”

My dear brothers and sisters, together let us make a difference in this world for our love for Jesus.

May our lives be transformed like unto Him whose life gave LIFE to all.

It has been said that Jesus’ life fascinates and baffles everyone – both believers and non-believers. A lot of people are surprised with the simple life of Jesus, and the tremendous impact He had on history.

Let me end with this short article entitled: “ONE SOLITARY LIFE”

Jesus was born in a manger, in a simple carpenter’s family; He never went to school, nor attended college; He never wrote a book.

Until the age of thirty he was a village carpenter; at thirty he became a nomadic preacher; But he never traveled more than 200 miles from the place of his birth; When he was thirty-three years old, public opinion turned against him; He was betrayed by his friends and was deserted by the others.

 He was unjustly condemned to death and was nailed as a criminal between two thieves; When he died, they laid him in a borrowed tomb.

Twenty centuries have come and gone; Till today he is the central figure of history. No library is complete without his biography. All ages and dates are numbered from his birth.

He never led an army; he never held a gun; but all the armies that ever marched, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth like that ONE SOLITARY LIFE of Jesus!”