Perhaps these words, “You are Peter and on this rock, I build my Church” are best known by Catholics. It gives us that sense of security that Christ is with us. We know in the Eucharist that He is with us according to the promise that He made. But when He spoke to Peter, so many hundreds of years ago, He gives us the conviction, the certainty that He continues to speak to us even today, through the one whom we call His vicar. Our Lord had taken His Disciples away from Judea, from the region where the Jews were highly influential.
St. Luke in today’s Gospel tells us of the lawyer who wished to embarrass our Lord, to disconcert Him. And he chooses to do so in a very subtle way, yet at the same time the question that he asked is of the utmost importance, not only for himself, but even for us today. What must I do to inherit eternal life? That’s the question all of us must ask. We must ask ourselves this question, and of course we must ask the Lord, who has already given us the answer.
We are all, I’m sure familiar with the story of the good Samaritan; and I’m sure we could repeat it without a moment’s reflexion because it’s a story that immediately catches our imagination. But everything our Blessed Lord says, has many meanings. It can be interpreted in many different ways and in each interpretation, if done with the mind of the Church; we will discover rich fruits for our own way of living.
Our Lord had found Himself in conflict with the authorities. There was concern for His life according to Saint Mark, His brothers thought that He was beside Himself, that He was mentally ill and so they came to take charge of Him. Saint Matthew doesn’t give us that particular detail; he simply says that the mother and brothers of Jesus appear. Our Lord is in the midst of teaching the crowds and the messenger comes in saying, “Your mother and your brothers are outside and they want a word with you”.
On Sunday May 13th 1917 the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes. They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. Frightened by the flash, the children looked around at the sky that was clear and bright without the least spot of a cloud. No breeze stirred, the sun was strong, and there was no hint anywhere of a storm that might be responsible for a flash of lightning.
God is rich in mercy, says the psalmist and this mercy of God is echoed throughout the Scriptures both in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Yet we sometimes get the impression from the Old Testament that God is vengeful, that He is a hard task master, that He is ready and eager to punish. When in fact God doesn’t punish so much that we earn the misfortune that comes our way because of our rebellion against God or because we are ignorant of what God wishes for us or because of the weakness of our nature that attracts us to sin.
This parable we just heard is similar to the parable of the talents, but different. Different in its sense and its meaning and to some extent in details. When our Lord speaks a parable we have to understand the context and to whom He is speaking. Of course He is always speaking to us but the time that He first spoke the first parable we look at those people who heard Him and what they would have drawn out of what He would have said. We heard our Lord was going to Jerusalem and that He passed through Jericho.
Ave Maria! In the beginning, at least the first third of the nineteen century, 1830, a young girl just in her early twenties entered the convent in Rue De Bac. She had joined the Daughters of Charity an order founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Her name was Zoe Laboure. Zoe was the ninth of eleven children of her parents, who were farmers and were fairly well to do. At the age of nine, her mother died and Zoe who was pious, stood on a little stool and picked up a statue of Our Lady which was kept on the mantle and said to her, ‘From now on you will be my Mother’.
Christ has come to make us like God. There is in the heart of every human being a desire to be like God. If there were not, our first parents would never have fallen into temptation. The temptation presented to them is to disobey God, to eat the fruit and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil. Our Lord who knows of this desire in every human heart to be like God, has come to fulfil it in the case of all those who would follow him. The path that He chose, was not one of disobedience but rather of obedience. And so He tells us the way in which we can imitate God.
Today we celebrate the annunciation of Our Lord. The great mystery of the union between God and man. When majesty puts on lowliness, where power puts on meekness, where eternity puts on time and immortality puts mortality. These are the words of the great pope, St. Leo the first. We are in the midst of this great mystery, the mystery of our redemption. How can we contemplate it? If we are to summarise it, we can say one thing, that humility confronted pride. Divine humility confronts human pride.