21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
August 24, 2014


Life is full of mysteries. They say that life in its totality is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. Indeed … There comes a time in one’s life when one has to accept the wisdom behind seemingly senseless and meaningless things and events. One such reality that begs for acceptance, not resistance, is the mystery of whatever our status in life is. Some get more keys than others (read: more responsibilities). Some get the most coveted key (read: the choicest appointive position). Still others get no keys whatsoever (read: they are just part of the hoi polloi – the many and the unknown; the plebeian foot-soldiers who soldier on without much fanfare and recognition). And then some are left with the task of holding the door for other people, and not much else!

Eliakim was one such individual whom the Lord saw as worthy enough to be given the “key of the House of David,” a foreshadowing of one other form of keys that will be fodder for thought from the Gospel reading. And this leads me to the key thought for today, the 21st Sunday in ordinary time. And that key idea is that position, title, power base, promotion and the holding of privileged places and posts do not have much to do primarily with merit and personal worthiness, but a lot to do with the greater and bigger mystery of God’s choice and God’s will.

Throughout history, there have been good Popes and bad Popes. There is no need for me, or anyone else to deny that, or cover that up. Whilst the Lord, we are told, called Peter a “rock” on which he meant to build His Church, the reality is that there were those who were more of stumbling blocks than solid rock of stability and strength. Even now, even here, I know of some bishops, who, from the purely human point of view, do not deserve anything, definitely not their august position as Ordinary, but they did get the choice, which in our catholic faith we believe to be ultimately God’s choice and God’s will. (I even know of one who holds the highest position in the land who definitely does not even deserve to be President of a homeowners’ association!)

But life, like I said, is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.  Let us take it from Paul. He waxes lyrical in his letter to the Romans: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”

That sort of puts me in place for today! Me and my foolish thoughts! Who am I to think about how unworthy certain people are of their positions! Who am I to presume that many of them are not the least bit deserving of whatever it is they hold (and boy, do some of them really feel the power and the glory emanating from their mouth, ears, hands, and feet!)

Today, as a loyal Catholic believer, I pledge my allegiance to the Pope and his bishops and priests. Many of them are rocks of faith and good example. Some, I already said, bring nothing but shame to the Church and society. But one thing that I can never deny is the fact that God, who makes the choice, ultimately does not err, and even his “mistakes” from the human point of view, can be used for the furtherance of ultimate good.

The last six Popes that spanned my lifetime, so far, have all been rocks of sanctity and fidelity. I am well aware, being once a student of history, that I cannot say the same about the likes of Pope Alexander VI, Julius II, Paul III, Pius VI, Boniface VIII and Paul II! Those of you who love sleaze might want to google them for the sake of your curiosity.

But I have one message for you today – in connection with that key thought I spoke about above. Yes, life is a mystery. And yes … God’s will is even more mysterious. His ways, like we said, are inscrutable and unsearchable. You cannot google God’s will and God’s plan. But mystery does not translate to impossibility. Mystery does not mean illogicality. Mystery does not equate with senselessness and gross inanity. The mystery of his love and his choice all have to do with his overall plan for each and everyone of us, and for the world that he loves to the hilt.

My task right here, right now is to accept even what appears to be unacceptable. My job is to make myself at home even with what appears insufferable. I cannot accept the fact, for example, that there are still people who kill in God’s name; and terrorists who wage war in God’s name … even if they call themselves followers of a religion of peace! Even in my pain, I cry out, as did the psalmist: “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands!”

Today, though, there is one thing you and I need to, not only accept, but also proclaim with all our might and strength … Yes, bad Popes notwithstanding … bad bishops and priests though there may be (and I may be one of them), the Word of the Lord is clear and unmistakable, although certainly inscrutable and unsearchable: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

Need I say anything more?