Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

Aug 19, 2020 | Gospel Reflections

Matt. 16: 13-20

Sunday Reflection by Sister Katy Webster, SNDdeN

“Who do you say I am?”
Let’s imagine for a moment this question directed to ourselves, to each one of us. Books and more books are written about the answer to this question. Talks, lectures and courses try to give the answer. Deep down, every person who calls herself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, has to answer this question. The answer we give must make sense to our own self. From this answer we have to respond, we have to act.

Peter’s answer is simple, You are “the Messiah, son of the Living God.” Messiah is the one anointed for the mission. Being a son indicates intimacy with the father, who is a LIVING God, a present, active God in the midst of this people who walk with Jesus.

Jesus affirms this answer and says it was a revelation from the Father.
The question arises “How did the Father reveal this to Peter?” I believe it was revealed during the walk with Jesus. Where did Jesus walk? Who did Jesus walk with? What did Jesus do for these people? What did he do with these people? Jesus walks with the impoverished, rejected, lost, discarded by society. What did Jesus do? He restored the ability of people to assume their freedom and the ability to live with dignity because Jesus attended people according to their own request. He believed in the people’s ability to choose freedom through healing, sharing, participating with others.

From this healing and liberation, the person enters the path of following Jesus in the community of followers. Jesus told Peter that he is the stone on which his Church would be built. The tendency is to see the first pope and the line of absolute authority in this statement of Jesus. Remembering where Jesus was, the moment in his and the disciples’ history, Jesus was not visualizing a church with pope, bishops, and the whole structure that we know today, with all the laws, this whole institution. He was living a community of people who were trying to do something different, a new community of participation, sharing, equality, respect, love, forgiveness, justice, peace and joy. He wanted this community for his followers of all times. What makes this church of which Peter is the cornerstone is the action of the people in community.
So, we go back to the question above: Who do you say I am? Messiah, son of the living God.
That’s right. And in life? On August 16, a leader of one of our communities was murdered. Zenon Soares was a good man, father of a one-year old son, son of Durval and Ercília, with eleven brothers and sisters. He was known as a cheerful, willing, hardworking person, deep with his reflections and family counselor. The family and community suspect that someone wanted to steal and ended up killing Zenon in his own home.

Early on the morning of August 17 we received the news that Father Romildo, after a fight of more than two weeks with COVID 19, died at the reference hospital for Coronavirus in Altamira. Romildo was a good young man, youth worker, part of the pastoral of Communication and Prison Ministry, who worked here in Anapu as a seminarian and new priest touching many people and making many friends. There were so many people praying that he would live and be restored to his mission, but still he died.

Two deaths within 12 hours, and neither needed to happen. The two men were victims of injustice, different, but still injustice. Where’s the living God here? Where for sure. Right now it is in solidarity, in gestures, in messages, in words that seek to comfort.

In the case of Zenon, the aunt’s house is the place of support, and the cousins arranged food, masks, alcohol gel, places to sit, a place to take care of Zenon’s mother to wake Zenon.
When Dona Ercília, Zenon’s mother, finally went to look at her son through the window of the coffin, she sat down and cried: “It’s cowardice they did to my son! Cowardice.”
Like the gentle flutter of a butterfly’s wings, a motion demanding action from the competent authorities to end impunity in the face of so much violence in our district begins to rise. The cry for justice in these cases of murder, robbery and violence in general echoes the cry of the grieving mother.

The messages of solidarity in the face of Father Romildo’s death are still arriving. The question remains: why did the public health system fail to save Romildo? Why is it failing to save our people? Why don’t people attend to social isolation? Why do governments not support and demand this social isolation and effectively fund the health system?
Who is Jesus, son of the father, the Living God? He is the strength and force that exists in the community that lives the journey of justice, love, solidarity and sharing in action. It happens here in Anapu, in the Diocese of Xingu, as in all of Brazil, in Peru, in Nicaragua, in Congo, in Nigeria, in Kenya, in Zimbabwe, in South Africa, in the United States, in England, in Scotland, in Belgium , in France, in Italy, in Japan, in the end in the whole world.

Dear Reader: How do you answer the question: Who do you say Jesus is? How do you see the answer in your life, in the life of your community?

Matthew 16: 13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
 Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
 For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Katy Webster, SNDdeN

Katy Webster (known as Kátia in Brazil) entered Notre Dame at Ilchester, Maryland in 1976. After initial formation in the Baltimore-Washington area, Katy was missioned to Brooklyn, New York. She taught sixth graders for nearly 5 years at St. Catherine of Genoa School. In February, 1984 Katy was sent to Brazil by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, with the blessings of students and teachers of St. Catherine’s. Kátia lived in Maranhão for 9 years. Then in 1993, she moved to Pará where she has lived at Centro Nazaré on the Transamazon Highway, Altamira, Anapu and Itaituba. Kátia is currently back in Anapu. Kátia has lived with and among the people who struggle to live community while facing the greed of ranchers, loggers and lately the mining companies, and always learning far more than teaching. It is a blessed journey of faith and trust in the good God.
Matthew 16: 13-20