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To: All
Catholic Culture

Daily Readings for: August 21, 2011
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ordinary Time: August 21st

  Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time Old Calendar: Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 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 Messiah, 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" (Matt. 15:13-20).

Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Sunday Readings
The first reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 22:19-23. Because of the reference to the "key of the house of David" in this text, some Fathers saw in it a messianic prophecy, foretelling the removal from power of the leaders of the Chosen People of the Old Testament, and the transfer of that power to Christ, who in turn handed it to Peter as head of the Church, the new Chosen People.

The second reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 11:33-36 in which he offers praise and thanks to God for including everyone in the salvation He offered, first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.

The Gospel is from St. Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus, the true Son of God, became man in order to make all men His brothers and co-heirs with Him, to the divine, eternal kingdom. To carry on His divine mission on earth (after He had ascended into heaven), He founded the Church on the twelve Apostles. This Church was to be God's new Chosen People (hence perhaps the twelve Apostles take the place of the heads of the twelve tribes of the Chosen People of old). It was to be made up of all races from all parts of the world. As its mission was to bring the message of salvation to all men, it was to go on until the end of time. For this Church, this divinely instituted society of human beings, to carry out its mission of helping all men to reach their eternal kingdom, it was necessary to be sure of the road and the aids offered to its members. In other words, the Church should be certain that what it told men to believe and to practice was what God wanted them to believe and to practice. Today's reading from St. Matthew tells us how Christ provided for this necessity. In making Peter the head of the Apostolic College, the foundation-stone of his Church, the guarantor of its stability in the symbol of the keys and the promise that all his decisions would be ratified in heaven, Christ gave him the power of freedom from error when officially teaching the universal Church.

In other words, Peter received the primacy in the Church and the gift of infallibility in his official teaching on matters of faith and morals. As the Church was to continue long after Peter had died, it was rightly understood from the beginning that the privileges given to him and which were necessary for the successful mission of the Church, were given to his lawful successors-the Popes.

This has been the constant belief in the Church from its very beginning. The first Vatican Council solemnly defined this dogma and it was reconfirmed recently in the second Vatican Council. In giving these powers to Peter and to his lawful successors Christ was planning for our needs. In order to preserve and safeguard the right conduct of all its members He provided a central seat of authoritative power in His Church. Through the gift of infallibility He assured us that whatever we were commanded to believe (faith) or to do (morals) would always be what He and his heavenly Father wanted us to believe and to do.

How can we ever thank Christ for these marvelous gifts to his Church, that is, to us? Let us say a fervent: "thank you, Lord; You have foreseen all our needs and provided for them, grant us the grace to do the little part you ask of us in order to continue our progress on the one direct road to heaven."

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

45 posted on 08/21/2011 6:36:09 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
The Word Among Us

Meditation: Romans 11:33-36

“Oh, the depth!” (Romans 11:33)

Some remarkable humans have demonstrated the ability to free-dive to the depth of almost one hundred meters underwater—with no oxygen tank, fins, or weights. It’s an astounding feat. But that depth only scratches the surface of the deepest part of the ocean—the Challenger Deep in the Western Pacific, which is nearly eleven thousand meters. The human body is no match for the immense pressures found there!

In today’s second reading, Paul reflects on the extraordinary depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Just as an unaided diver can’t get to the Challenger Deep, neither can the unaided human heart grasp the “unsearchable” depths of God.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34). Curiously, Paul quotes the very same verse from Isaiah in his First Letter to the Corinthians. Only there, he adds: “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Amazing: We can explore the thoughts of the eternal, immortal, invisible, almighty Creator!

Today’s Gospel illustrates this point when Peter calls Jesus the Messiah. Immediately, Jesus praises him—but not for his powers of deduction. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus knew that Peter had to have received this gift from God.

That’s the key word: receive. Revelation is a gift. It isn’t something we can produce on our own. It’s a gift that God wants us to receive with open hearts and quiet minds. It’s God’s words coming alive in our hearts and filling us with his wisdom, his insights, and his peace.

Today at Mass, try to focus your heart on Jesus. Quiet your mind and tell Jesus that you want to receive whatever he wants to give you. Put your worries and cares aside and simply listen. You’ll know that what you heard is from God when your own heart starts echoing Paul’s prayer: To God be glory forever!

“Glory to you, Father, for the mysteries of your plan! Show me the depths of your love.”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138:1-3,6,8; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)

1. In the first reading from Isaiah, the Lord tells us that Eliakim “shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah,” and the Lord will “fix him as a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.” Whether you are a father or not, what can you do to bring greater honor to your family? If you are a father, how would you need to change to be the kind of father to your family that is described in the first reading?

2. When the responsorial psalm asks the Lord not to forsake the work of his hands, it suggests we are a “work in progress.” What specifically can you do to make yourself more available to the Lord for some additional tweaking?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul is almost bowled over just thinking of God’s greatness. Does reflecting on God’s greatness make him more or less approachable to you? Take some time in the upcoming weeks to reflect on God’s greatness and ask him to draw you closer to him?

4. In the Gospel today, Jesus assures Peter and the Apostles that Satan will never prevail against the Church, no matter what happens. This same confidence should inspire you as well, since you are a member of his Church. What steps can you take to increase your confidence in this reality, both in the Church and in your own life?

5. How would you respond to Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?” In particular, what role does Jesus have in your life?

6. The meditation challenges us with these words: “Revelation is a gift. It isn’t something we can produce on our own. It’s a gift that God wants us to receive with open hearts and quiet minds. It’s God’s words coming alive in our hearts and filling us with his wisdom, his insights, and his peace.” What are some revelations you have received from God during prayer and Scripture reading, or at Mass? In what ways has God revealed to you his “inscrutable” plan of salvation and the “depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God”? What steps can you take to open your heart and mind even more to God’s revelation?

7. Take some time now to pray that the Lord would open your heart and mind more deeply to his revelation as you pray, read Scripture, and attend Mass - and also during the course of your day. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

46 posted on 08/21/2011 6:39:13 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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