We’re so very happy to be able to re-open our school this week after shuttering it for several months because of the Corvid-19 virus that has plagued all sectors of our society – not only in our country but throughout the entire world. It’s been a long journey for our families and our school family (teachers AND ancillary staff) including having to do a “virtual” graduation for the first time in our history. But we’re glad to resume our educational program in providing a solid foundation for the spiritual and moral preparation of our youngsters for life in this world and, what’s more important, for the world to come. Catholic schools are eminently qualified to do this, as they have for their sole purpose the assisting of our parents in their duties as the primary educators of their children. I thank our parents for making many sacrifices in order to send their children to a Catholic school as they continue to live up to their Baptismal promises.  One thing I miss is the weekly Friday morning with the children, and I hope we can resume that in an appropriate way this year. In the meantime, I hope to reach them by live-streaming their Mass each week and the messages in my weekly column in the parish bulletin.
Our first two readings of this Sunday’s Mass are quite fitting if we wish to contemplate what it means to be a disciple of our Lord and a good steward of the gifts that He has given to us. In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the servant Eliakim was made the gatekeeper and given the key to the house of David the King because he showed himself to be trustworthy. In our second reading, from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, Saint Paul makes it quite clear that everything that we have has come to us through Divine Providence, for all (good) things are “from Him and through Him and for Him.” The Gospel presents us with the key question that we must all answer if we are to be intentional disciples of the Lord Jesus. After the disciples have spent some time with Him, we hear Our Lord first ask them, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They reply with the rumors that were circulating at the time. But then Jesus goes a step further and asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replies, “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Peter is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven because he spoke the spiritual truth that Jesus is “the Christ,” our Redeemer, the “Son of the living God.”  Through the gift of his new name, no longer Simon, Peter’s pre-eminence among the disciples was confirmed and he was entrusted with a new mission. Still he remained subject to temptation and weakness, and in this we are no different. But Peter truly loved Christ and ultimately gave his life in imitation of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. In our times of temptation and weakness may we always call upon Jesus whose name is above all other names.
Eliakim and Peter are not the only believers to have the key that unlocks the door to a strong and generous faith. Pope Saint John Paul says that we all have this moment in life, for all of us have experienced a point where “it is no longer sufficient to speak about Jesus by repeating what others have said.” Rather, we must bear witness to Jesus and, through this, feel committed to living out the life that Our Lord calls us to live. To be best friends, followers and disciples of Our Lord, we must not only answer this question authentically, proclaiming that Jesus is indeed the “Christ, the Son of God;” we must live out our belief in our daily lives thru living a generous life in thanksgiving for all that God has given to us. Our life, indeed, our whole future, depends on the clear, unequivocal answer to this question.
Each week, we celebrate the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because we know that this is the primary way in which we encounter the “riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” There we listen to the word of God, share in the Eucharist and commit ourselves to living as Christ’s disciples. If we live our lives on a daily basis in ways that bear witness to our being disciples of Our Lord and good stewards of the many gifts that He has given to us through our generosity and our willingness to share what Our Lord has given to us with others, then we, like Peter, can look forward with hope to Jesus calling us “blessed,” for we, too, will have not only confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, but we will have lived that belief in our daily lives.