His is the glory forever, 21 Sunday 2017

Friends, our age is now increasingly called post-truth era. Most Christians now create their own images of the Church and God. Today, there is a widespread Christian sorcery, divination, Christian occultism, superstition, or what can be called 'Christian Witchcraft' in which all types of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), hypnotism, telepathy, clairvoyance, astral travel, are used to predict the future and the past, dawn, to perform 'wonders', give wealth and power to seekers. There is no limit to which many Christians and their false leaders in trying to gain the whole world. Many have forgotten that our responsibility as Christians is to truth and obey the word of God just as Noah and Abraham, our father in faith. We forget that all other gods are works of men. There is none like the Most High God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We hear of the story of Shevna in the first reading this day. Some church leaders interpreted today's text about David's house's key as a messianic prophecy (Isaiah 22: 19-23). For them, God had taken his power from the leaders of Israel and given it to Jesus who gave it to Peter, his church leader, the newly chosen people. Shevna abused his power by encouraging King Hezekiah (716-687) to revolt against Assyria and request help from Gentiles, Egypt. The prophet Isaiah completely opposed this and said that Judah should hope in the Lord. Judah did not listen and it led to its destruction and that of Jerusalem a hundred years later. Shevna lost his power for his desire for the world and his infidelity to God.

The Pharisees and Sadducees who were leaders of the people of Israel lost their power and position because of the same desire for the world and its temptations. This was why Jesus taught the people to follow what they teach and not to live as they did. The rock is Christ (1 Cor 10: 4). Everything is summarized in him (Ephesians 1:10). He is the wisdom of God, the word in which the Father has created everything and expresses all his essence.

As Christians, what happened to Shevna, the Pharisees and Sadducees should teach us something. Unfortunately, it often does not. We hardly learn from history. Therefore, the risk is that we will meet the same fate as they did. Most of us Christians have forgotten our elevated position before God. The world and its attraction have taken over many Christians lives.  Many Christians have made money the purpose of their lives and thereby endanger their eternal life. Many Christians have lost their faith and fall victims to the world. Even many have become atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the worst thing is that many who sit in church benches are pagans, cultists, sorcerers, witches, murderers in their thoughts and actions. Many have forgotten the question of Christ: "What would it profit if you gain everything and lose your soul?" Many worship God with their mouth while their hearts are far from God.

We may have to ask ourselves: “Do we love God's commandments and promises? Do we have our hearts where the true joy is? Are we Christians striving for the same goal in life? These are some important issues that today's opening prayer rises for us. Everyone has received something from the Lord to administer. For all of us, there is a day of reckoning when we are going to give account for how we managed what was given to us. In today's first reading, we hear about Shevna’s reckoning day. He had been found unworthy as a trustee, therefore he shall be relieved of his position (Isaiah 22: 19-23).

When the Lord opens, no one can close and when he closes, no one can open. Scripture tells us that heaven and earth proclaim the glory of the Lord. Nevertheless, no one or nothing on earth can understand what depth of wealth, wisdom and knowledge that is present in God. No one can know his thoughts or be his counsellor (Romans 11: 33-36). From him and through him and in him everything exists. In another place, the Apostle Paul expresses the same thing in other words: "In Him, we live and exist." The knowledge that creation gives about the beauty of God is not as exalted as God reveals in his own being. Nevertheless, both are needed for us to know him as much as possible.

Peter’s Confession at Caesarea Philippi occurred near the ancient City of Dan in northern Israel. Today, this is a large archaeological site containing elaborate building projects erected by Herod Philip and Herod the Great’s great grandson, Agrippa II. In addition to magnificent Roman structures, Caesarea Philippi is also known as Banias. Here, there is a collection of springs and pagan worship sites linked to the cult of Pan, the goddess of fertility- half-human with goat legs, a tail and sometimes horns, in the Greco-Roman world.  The centrepiece of this ancient worship site is a huge cliff and grotto, which contains the remains of numerous altars, caves, temples, and courtyards. The entire area teemed with Roman mythology and idolatry.

This incidence at Caesarea Philippi is the foundation of the Petrine office, that is the origin for the respect we accord to the office of the Pope. Jesus uses this place as perfect visual aid to what he was revealing. This place is one of the key places in the Bible. Mount Hermon is the key source of fresh water for Israel. It is three mountains of equal heights linked together. Mount Hermon represents the kingdom of God and River Jordan is the Water of Life. Some scholars have argued that it was at mount Hermon that Christ Transfigured and not Mount Tabor as tradition says. Hermon means sanctuary, from ancient times considered as a holy place connected to heaven.

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