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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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To: All
A Christian Pilgrim


(A biblical reflection on the 21st ORDINARY SUNDAY, 21 August 2011) 

Gospel Reading: Mt 16:13-20 

First Reading: Is 22:19-23; Psalms: Ps 138:1-3,6,8; Second Reading: Rom 11:33-36 

The Scripture Text

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ. (Mt 16:13-20 RSV) 

Who was Jesus? A prophet? A moral teacher? The founder of a new religion? Answers varied just as much in Jesus’ day as they do in ours. What about you? How do you respond when Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)? An even better question is, “How do you know Jesus is who you say He is?” 

Peter told Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son the living God” (Mt 16:16). But how did he know this? By revelation! Jesus told him, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What tremendous joy Peter must have felt as Jesus confirmed his proclamation that He was indeed the Messiah. Not only was Peter standing in the presence of God; he was also blessed with the deep knowledge of who Jesus is! He had come face-to-face with the long-awaited Savior of all humankind! How blessed Peter was! But we, too, can come into this same understanding of God’s love. 

According to Pope John Paul II, the expression ‘flesh and blood’ is a reference to man and the common way of understanding things. In the case of Jesus, the common way is not enough. A grace of ‘revelation’ is needed, which comes from the Father. (At the Beginning of the New Millennium, 20). 

It is incorrect, however, to think that divine, supernatural revelation is something God gives to just a few, or only in small pieces.  For God loves revealing Jesus to us. Just think of how new parents never feel tired talking about their children. God is not all that different. He pours out His Spirit on us so that our very desire for revelation about Jesus will grow – to the point where we will actually expect to see Jesus’ actions and hear His voice during the day. Even if you have known moments of revelation in the past, God wants to give you much more: “insight into the mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:4), and the confidence to walk in His presence all day long. 

It is encouraging to know that despite this moment of revelation, Peter still messed up – a lot! It is even more encouraging that Peter’s mistakes made him hunger for more revelation. Like Peter, even when we are painfully aware of our weaknesses, we still can ask for more revelation from the Lord. We surely cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord’s face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand.” 

At Mass today, let us ask God to reveal Jesus – the Messiah and Son of God – to us. Let us quiet our minds and open our hearts to his revelation. As we draw near to God and thank and praise Him in the Eucharistic prayer, He can reveal Himself more and more. No matter how far along we are in our walk with the Lord, there is always much more to discover about His love for us and His plan for our lives. 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me a fresh revelation of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, I want to know You more, so that I can give even more of You away to others. Amen. 

47 posted on 08/21/2011 6:42:15 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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