by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
Gospel Reading: St. Mathew 16:13-20
Next Sunday is "Koodosh Eetho" Sunday. It is the beginning of the church calendar year.
Gospel reading for Sunday is from Mathew 16:13-20.
"13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ."
Theme: Restoring God's image in man
Koodosh-Eetho means sanctification of the church. It is the process of becoming holier by taking divine properties of God. Man does not become divine, but, in Christ, he can partake in divine nature. It restores God's image in man. It is in close union with God that the image is restored.
As the church year begins, we are to reflect on the sanctity and grandeur of the church. The church is founded, sustained and sanctified by God. According to the doctrines of the church, each believer is supposed to be a rock of faith and such faithfuls constitute the body of the church. It is in communion with God that brings moral perfection in man. For the church, it is the ability to produce and secure holiness in its members. On this Sunday, the faithful attempt to become holier by restoring God's image in close association with Him.
Church is God's creation and design. It is God's method of providing spiritual nurture for the believer and the community of faithful through which the gospel is proclaimed and God's will is advanced to every generation.
The English word "Church", according the Webster's dictionary, has originated from the Greek word "kuriakos", meaning, "belonging to the Lord" and came to designate the place where God's people met for worship. So the church is "a group of people called out to a life belonging to the Lord and regularly gathers with the intention of worshipping, discovering and doing the will of God." The church is the influencing agent for God.
In the gospel, Jesus and his followers entered the district of Caesarea Philippi. There Jesus looked at the disciples in a moment of reflection and asked, "Who do men say that I am?". The disciples began sharing with Jesus what they have heard from other people. "Some say you are Elijah, others say John the Baptist, still other, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Many people in the area spoke of Jesus as a prophet, teacher, holy man or a spiritual leader. However, people did not consider him as the Son of God.
Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" That's where the truth about Jesus' divinity is revealed. Peter answered, "You are the messiah, son of the living God.' Jesus was delighted to hear Peter's answer. Then Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for it was not revealed to you by man, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are the rock, and on this rock I will build my church."
Jesus recognized Peter's faith that Jesus is the messiah and the son of the living God and that this truth was revealed to Peter by the holy spirit. Jesus says it is on this rock (Peter' faith) that his church will be built. The gates of Hades, meaning the power of evil, will not be able to overpower God's hold on His people.
The Church was founded by God in the person of Jesus Christ. Our Lord named Peter the future leader of the church, when he said to him "Thou art Peter (Rock), and upon this rock I will build MY church. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 16:19)
Church in Today’s Context
by Rev. Fr. Dr. Joy Pyngolil
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