Homily – 21st Sunday Ordinary Time

So two questions. They may not seem to have anything to do with each other, but give me a moment first.

What is it that really makes you? Yeah, in the sense that you get nervous, you get insecure, yeah, you’re a little scared. And secondly, that’s the thought of space aliens do that to you. Now you’re saying space aliens, really? However, Saint John Paul II, during his reign as pontiff, started a special commission to examine the question, Is Jesus the Lord and Savior if we find life on other planets?

Now, that is a very interesting question. So how many this morning would say, yes, Jesus Christ is king of the universe, therefore he is Lord and savior of Mati, The Martian who agrees with that? Who says, No, no, not no. First, there is no such thing as space alien. And secondly, Jesus would certainly not be Lord and Savior.

Anybody willing to go out on that limb. Oh, no. One one person. Good. Well, although it sounds like an unusual question, it actually really comes to the heart of our readings today. Jesus asks the question, Who do people say I am? Well, certainly in a moment or two we are going to say the creed. And this morning at the 11:15 mass, we’re going to baptize a new baby into our community of faith.

And we are going to pass on that freed to this baby. What does the creed say about what it is we believe? Well, the creed says we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God begotten not made one in being with the Father.

Now, that’s one sense, and it is a very complicated sentence because it identifies Jesus for us when we say the creed. That’s how we answer the question Who do people say I am? And so if Marty the Martian walked into our congregation this morning and began to look around, he would ask the question, Who’s that guy in all the windows?

Who’s that guy on the whatever that is? He may not know the word cross. What would we say to Marty The Martian? Would that be our first line? Because Jesus Christ, as Lord, has a unique place in history. He has a unique place in the universe. He is anointed by God to save. That’s a very special and a very personal claim about the identity of Jesus.

Moreover, we say that He is eternally begotten. That’s quite a long time. From the very beginning of creation, there is the word living with the father and the creation is the creation of the multiverse or universe, depending on your physics. But that includes every one and every thing. Jesus is not simply a creature like ourselves, but rather He is the He is one in being with the father.

That’s amazing. And when we ask when people ask us who do you say Jesus is? We say all of this. Well, it’s not just me as an individual. It is each and every one of us as the church. And we have to stop and realize that when we ask the question, who is this Jesus? He is one just like ourselves, God from God, but born of the Virgin Mary.

He became flesh and through Mary becoming flesh, he suffers, dies and rises from the dead. And there is one other character pilot. Have we ever stopped to think that Mary and Pilot are the only two people other than Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit that we identify in the creed, life and death? Jesus then, is the one who came to give us eternal life and we suffer, died and rose so that we might live forever.

That’s who Jesus is. And when people ask us, Who do you say Jesus is? We include all of this because that’s our encounter with Christ. Now, in all honesty, I’m not afraid of Marty the Martian. And in fact, I want to be beamed up onto the mothership. I really do. And although you’re all laughing in saying he’s crazy when the mothership comes and I’m being up, I’m willing to bet you all want me to take you with me.

I’m willing to bet it. But there is one thing that makes me very nervous, and that is the thought of losing my keys. How many of us have ever lost keys? How many of us have become really nervous? Really scared about the keys we lost? Well, in today’s readings, the question about who Jesus is is very closely tied up with the keys.

Notice in the first reading we heard someone has the keys of authority taken away from him and given to someone else. He loses the keys, he loses that honor and glory and power given by God. He loses part of his identity. And when he loses his identity, he loses that relationship with the Lord. The key to our relationship with Christ Jesus is baptism and the Eucharist.

And when we lose our memory of the grace of baptism and our encounter with Christ in living food come down from heaven, we lose our identity as persons. And this church, Peter, in today’s gospel, is given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Very biblical, very rabbinic. He has given power and authority to lose sin. But Peter represents each and every one of us, and our call as church to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and set people free from anything that holds them bound, anything that keeps them from an encounter with Christ.

So when people ask us who is this Jesus? Do we share our encounter with the living God? Do we give them the key to salvation, or do they lose that key because we’ve lost it and that should make us as scared. But every week we have an opportunity. Every week we have the opportunity to profess what the identity of Christ is.

When we say the creed together as church and every week we renew our encounter with Christ through the Eucharist. And in five weeks we as a diocese have an opportunity to gather together at my Modernity Stadium, to profess our belief in the power of the Eucharist. Our diocese will hold the Eucharistic revival, bringing together, we hope, vows of members of our church, our community of Diocese of Brooklyn, Queens.

Are we ready to stand up and answer the question? But you, who do you say I am as a church? Well, I’m not holding my breath for Marty The Martian to walk into Charles Borromeo Church. I’m really not. But I’m not afraid of Marty The Martian coming in. Because in my heart, I know Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of everything, but I am afraid of losing my keys and I am afraid of losing the key to faith, the creed and the Eucharist.

So let us pray as a church that we will always hold those keys to the heart of Christ and that we will hold them together as we proclaim Jesus Christ. Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever as the Church of Jesus Christ.