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Sunday Homily - 21.8.2011

http://blankspot-atme.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-or-who-am-i.htmlWhen I was a child, I really admired stories about American Indians. Books about Indians by German author Karl May are very popular in all European countries. I admired their courage and bravery. However, a special feature for me was their names, which they gathered at the threshold of adulthood. These names reflected their attitude towards life, which they sought to prove throughout life. I do not know if it was true, but the biggest shame was the loss of a name for bad behavior.

A person´s name in the past was much more important to people than today. This can be seen in today's Gospel.

Jesus attaches great importance to someone´s name. We heard how he asked his apostles, how he was regarded by the people. The opinion of people was different. However, after Simon gave the correct answer, Jesus reminded him of his new name: “You are Peter”, which means rock, stone, boulder or stone-inlaid road. Simon first received this name, when Jesus invited him to be one of the Apostles. This name defines the mission for Simon. Peter would be the foundation of the Community Church. He would do so by union with Christ-the Architect and with the Community-Building. Peter remained faithful to this mission until death.

At our birth, we also received a name which has some meaning. But the significance of this name very often has nothing to do with our lives. But we have received one other name that is interconnected with our lives. In baptism each of us received a name. This name is “Christian”. It means "belonging to Christ" or "follower of Christ." This name, the Gentiles of Antioch gave to the disciples of Jesus. To the Gentiles, the lives of the disciples resembled the life of Christ. They tried to do what Jesus preached.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect on whether we are faithful to this name. We know how difficult it is. And therefore Jesus is asking us, "What do you say that I am?" When we answer as Peter replied-“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, then Jesus tells us: “I say to you, you are Christian!” Jesus entrusts our mission to us. Interestingly a great thinker Soren Kierkegaard has expressed it: "Being a Christian means to be "solitary" before God." This means, we are invited to take what God gives us like the apostles did.

Personally, I am fascinated by the stories of Jewish rabbis. They very often finish open – seeming to be incomplete. They give us questions for our lives.

One Jewish story tells of the wise and God-fearing rabbi. The rabbi spent all day studying books on old prophecies. In the evening, he went to walk. He walked along an abandoned street. At one point he met a guard, who was going back and forth with spry step in front of the fence of a wealthy landowner. “For whom are you going back and forth?” the curious rabbi asked him. The guardsman told him the name of his master and immediately asked the rabbi: “And for whom are you here?”

Here the story finishes with a very good question for us: “For whom are you here?”

 

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