Reflection for 21st Sunday of Year

My dear Friends

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus asking: ‘Who do people say I am?’ Then after Peter’s response, Jesus says, ‘you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church?’  There are multiple theological facets to do with Church and the Institution in Jesus’ question and Peter’s response. However, amid all of our surging concerns birthed by COVID19, I do not think we need to go there just now! What is Jesus saying to you and me in this gospel…in this situation?

In what seems like a previous life, I spent many weeks in sites and museums all over Egypt doing research. One of the things which fascinated me was examining nuts and seeds dating back thousands of years. The shells of the nuts had never been broken. Neither the seeds, nor nuts, had ever germinated, grown, borne fruit or experienced transformation. They just lay there, encased in glass, covered in millennia of dust and grime! I think the same thing can happen to us!

Recently, I had a number of funerals. As I walked through the cemetery, my eye caught the inscriptions on some of the memorial stones and crosses. ‘beloved Father/Mother/Brother/ Sister…An angel sleeps here…ever present in our hearts…Love you for ever’… a rainbow of messages of love trying to express the question mirrored in the words of the gospel, who do people say I am? I think the great Sufi sage sums up what I am trying to express here when he wrote, ‘You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens’!

In life, we have a choice! We either allow God’s Love to break open the shells, fortifications, barriers, which we allowed pain, hurt or woundedness to construct around our hearts, or, we risk becoming like the dried out, unrealised, unactualized, dust-covered nuts and seeds in those museums!  It is then that we can become grim, mean-spirited people, with the warmth and attraction of well-modulated refrigerators! Or, we can allow the often grinding, daily words, actions and events which hit us each day, to crack and break the shell of our egos, and so allow the central core of ourselves (the ‘nut or seed’) to germinate, and be transformed, with the love, forgiveness, compassion, and reconciliation of God’s grace flowing through us.

This is the life’s journey, and the sometimes, painful price, of allowing our hearts to be ‘broken open’ to enable us to become the creations God created us to be.

In the words of Rumi:

     “Do you know what you are?

     You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter. You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.

     This universe is not outside of you.  Look inside yourself;

     everything that you want,  you are already that.”

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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