The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
August 27, 2023 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 16:13-20
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
On most every night, when the sky is clear, I step outside into our backyard to gaze up to the heavens above and try to imagine all that I am looking at. Being a very amateur astronomer, I know that the extent of my seeing is very limited. For example, all of the stars and planets I see exist within our own galaxy, the Milky Way, which is but one of millions, or perhaps billions of similar star collections in the universe. Even on a clear night, I can see only a very small fraction of all that we know exists.
I have, however, when conditions are right, experienced a momentary seeing of our neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy. The fuzzy blur that I behold has been traveling to me at the speed of light for over two million years. And now with the “eye” of the James Webb Space Telescope, we now can view galaxies created soon after the first moment of creation 13.8 billion years ago.
All of this is to say that I experience an ever-expanding understanding not only of the incredible magnitude and size of God’s creation, but also of its Creator, the “Ground of all Being" - a term used by the respected theologian, Paul Tillich. Such thinking increased my appreciation of God’s identity, power and presence. My idea of God became incredibly larger than it was before I learned about the vast extent of God’s creation. What a compelling mystery is the reality of the Creator God of all that we now know about, and who knows what else?
This kind of thinking causes me to ponder anew the confession of Peter in today’s gospel that Jesus is “the Son of the living God.” This is among the most important words in the entire Bible. And quite honestly, borders on the incomprehensible. Especially if we consider the immensity of God as described above. But there it is. God, in the person of Jesus, the Son of God in human form, standing before Peter and the others. This is a “mind blowing” truth if there ever was one! The creator of the entire universe, fully present in one, miniscule part of it. In a person, born of the Virgin Mary.
This leads me to think of God as fully personal, friendly and supportive of all that has been created and sustained in existence. I can think of God, especially as revealed in Jesus, as someone who deeply knows and loves you and me. God is not just a passive power who winds the clock of creation, but someone who breathes life into it and sees us, embraces us and desires us to live now and forever in the immediate presence of the One who exists with us here on earth and later in heaven.