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Youth Ministry Resources - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 16:13-20 - Peter's profession of faith - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have been listening to Matthew's Gospel throughout Ordinary Time and this passage marks a turning point. Jesus has been teaching and healing the people and is now experiencing open hostility from the religious leaders. Jesus senses that it is important to bring his disciples into a fuller understanding of who he is and what might happen as he continues his mission.

Jesus comes to gentile country, Caesarea Philippi, and he questions the disciples about his identity, first on the views of the people at large and receives in response a variety of inadequate labels of religious figures who have already died. To contrast this inadequacy, Jesus then asks the disciples directly "who do you say I am?" At this point we have one of the most beautiful Christological faith statements in the Scriptures. From Peter, who falls from one inadequate moment to another and who we know will go on to deny Jesus. At this point, Peter is outstanding.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" this most powerful faith statement comes through the gracious revelation of God. Peter describes Jesus in relationship with God and this is such an important point for us. God is not presented as some fearsome, cloud living, white bearded chap but someone who is in close relationship with Jesus. Jesus has been teaching the disciples that he is God's son for some time (1:27) however, by drawing this statement out of Peter, Jesus is now ready to reveal his plans for a church.

The word ecclesia, assembly of God's people, is only used once in the Gospels and having singled Peter out Jesus confers upon him three roles: "rock foundation" of the Church; holder the keys of the kingdom of heaven; one who binds and looses. This church envisioned by Jesus was to work within the wider mass of Israel the base for the end time reconstitution of God's people.

Through various accidents of history, we are part of that original Church and it remains an imperfect church because it members are human and frequently fail. However, we too echo Peter's proclamation. We believe we have been baptised into the same relationship Jesus shares with God. Jesus is our brother, and God looks upon us and says "this is my beloved" and so we have a role to play. There is no room for spectators in the Church, we are commissioned and empowered to bring Christ into our secular world. To bring God's love into circumstances of hate and fear because God's love will transform our world into what we were created to be.

Cate Mapstone

Luke 13:22-30 - All invited to the banquet - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke places particular emphasis on repentance, it is a theme readily recognised in his gospel. Repentance is also a central aspect of salvation and salvation is of primary concern for the people questioning Jesus. It is also worth remembering that this teaching is made by Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem, so it is considered an important part of the message of Jesus.

As people living in affluent and modern times we do not necessarily relate to the experience of walking as a group through the town gates or finding our way through narrow gates of an old town. In Australia, we are used to wide open spaces with no gated cities or towns, and our only experience of entering in a crowd might be at a sporting or entertainment venue or shopping rush. So the language does not immediately engage us. We do however, relate to the relationships Jesus uses as analogy to describe eating and drinking in certain company and some of those relationships may be fleeting. Jesus is quietly asking if our approach to relationship with him is also fleeting. Are we 'fair weather friends' who flit in and out of relationship with God depending on our needs? Is our relationship with God a one way conversation of stating our needs?

As this passage shows God will be quite clear about who is saved. Jesus shows the way by eating and drinking with the lowly and those on the margins and by doing so he is recognising their importance as a child of God. Not all those on the margins are interested in the invitation but they are the people never considered as important by the powerful. The Reign of God frequently includes reversals of positions " there are those now last who will be first." Some of us receive quite a number of invitations while others may receive very few. It rarely has much to do with our worth as a person, sometimes it is simply the role or position we hold in society. The invitation in today's Gospel is universal. It is not just for the chosen people, it is for everyone. God recognises each of us individually and says "come my precious one, come." Some of us decline, as we are rather busy at present and quite satisfied, but Jesus makes it clear that our behaviour, our priorities and our decisions now will determine our future and our salvation.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time