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Solid Ground Beneath Our Feet

August 23, 2020   Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 121)

Reading I   IS 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
“I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family.”

Responsorial Psalm   PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8

R. (8bc) Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

Reading II   ROM 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?

For from him and through him and for him are all things. 
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Alleluia   MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
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.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

By Amy Blythe 

I make my way over the last stretch of uneven trail, jumping over the crevice and onto the giant rocks that tower over the treetops. From the craggy boulder top I see miles away to the neighboring town, stretches of farmland, and the mountains beyond. I exhale and experience holy: a place of serenity lifted to the heavens, offering vision and clarity. I carried uncertainty and loneliness with me on the trail, but the view from this perspective reminds me that the Creator of this majestic scene is the same God who lovingly meets me here. 

From this place I see that no matter my earthly circumstances, when I stand upon the Rock, I cannot be shaken.

Today’s Gospel gives me this reminder once again. Jesus establishes His Church upon the Rock—an unmovable Church that gives vision to what He desires for me and from me. It is the solid ground beneath my feet, a safehold against Satan and my own sin. In response to Peter’s understanding that Jesus is the Son of the living God, Jesus says, “[…] You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). In Aramaic, Christ calls Peter Kēpā and builds his church upon kēpā, both meaning rock.

It is in this Church that I am fortified in Truth.

When I position myself upon her as I did the boulder that day, I can see who He is and who He says I am: called, known, worth dying for. 

When I feel weak in my calling as a mother, I look to the Church. 
When the world wages war against itself, I remember that the gates of hell cannot prevail. 
When the loss of a loved one threatens to overcome me, I seek the certainty of the Body of Christ. 
When the chasm between my brothers and sisters in Christ widens to engulf me, I stand upon the rock, because the rock of salvation stands firm. 

This great gift offers me a worldview that is bound to the hope of the world to come.

Where this world is ever-changing and chaotic, the Church offers me constant guidance and grace. I participate in the Holy Mass to receive the love of Christ in the Eucharist. I return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the grace of forgiveness, a foothold in the foundation of faith. The Scriptures upon which this Church was built place me in the depths of the heart of the Father, and I am steadied by His peace. 

I return to the giant rocks, leaving my fears and worries behind me on the trail. I feel the strength of the boulder beneath my feet and lift my face to the sky. I praise God for the gift of the Church, for its firm place in an untenable world, for the view from rock where I can really see: “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever” (Romans 11:36).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Amy Blythe is a wife and mom to 4 children, ages 5 and under. She holds her MA in Pastoral Theology from Loyola University-Chicago and has worked in campus and high school ministry. When she isn't wrangling her little ones or writing, you can find her jogging through the countryside or on her back porch with a book. You can find Amy on Instagram here.

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