- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for August 23, 2020

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

21st SUNDAY Ordinary Time

(Isaiah 22: 19 – 23; Ps 138; Romans 11: 33 – 36; Matthew 16: 13 – 20)

“Our God comes, He keeps silence no longer.” This verse of Psalm 50 came to mind on reflecting on the Mass readings. In the three readings we hear of God’s coming, of His divine intervention and this intervention is always done in love because God is love. His love is never abstract, vague, pure sentiment, theoretical; it is always real, active and stronger than death and He touches peoples’ lives, our lives significantly.

The master of the palace, Shebna, has failed in serving God’s people who do not look to God, their Maker and Lord. The Lord, in His providence, in His loving intervention calls for His servant, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah to take Shebna’s place, “to be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.” Eliakim and the people could rejoice in this reality: “Our God comes, He keeps silence no longer.”

Paul experienced God’s personal intervention in his life – on the road to Damascus the divine voice stopped him in his tracks. Blinded, confused, led by the hand and then comforted by Ananias, Paul was completely changed. In the passage from Romans, obviously Paul again experiences the divine touch. In a kind of ecstasy, he cries out, “O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God…how unsearchable His ways!” In his life, more than once Paul could exclaim, “Our God comes, He keeps silence no longer.”

In time, the Son of God came, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and gathered to Himself disciples, men and women who were drawn to follow. In the Gospel account Jesus appears to be satisfying His curiosity in seeking how people regarded Him. As we heard, there were various ideas and when questioned personally, Peter declared, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God!” Jesus quickly proclaims, “Simon, son of Jonah… flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.” It is as if Jesus were saying to Peter: “Peter, the Father came to you. Our God comes, He keeps silence no longer.”

And Peter, to whom God came, will not keep silence in his life. He will go to his death proclaiming the Good News; he will expend his life in the Name of Christ to the very end. For him and others, God came and life could never be the same.

“Our God comes, He keeps silence no longer.” For us, here and now, this could not be truer. In celebrating this Holy Eucharist we are receiving the very person of our God through the Sacred Word, through our community of faith and, in a most personal, intimate way through the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus – who desires with passion to come to each one of us because our God comes.

Like Peter and Paul, like countless others, this coming of our God to us is clearly a call to respond with profound faith, with daily faithfulness and joyful gratitude. Living so – with this awareness of the Lord’s personal coming – can never be a secret endeavor. As God’s love is seen, so must ours!