Saturday, October 3, 2015

Homily 27th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 27th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Gen 2:18-24; Ps 128:1-6; Heb 2:9-11 and Mark 10:2-16

 Unity, Love and Mutual Respect!

This past summer I was in New Orleans, in the the United States for a Catholic Bible Conference.  With the high rate of divorce today in the world, a colleague of mine was eager to attain the session on marriage and family by Fr. Francis Moloney.  I learned from him that among his seven married brothers, he was the only married one married but divorced only once. Others had experienced divorce more than once!  It was a painful experience for him and his family and the more reason he was very eager to hear what the church, Fr. Moloney would have to say about family and marriage today! Many in the world may have had similar curiosity during the recent visit of Pope Francis to the United that culminated in his address to families in Philadelphia.  Currently, we are also curiously, awaiting the outcome of the ongoing 2015 synod of the Bishop on family and marriage, in Rome.  

Today’s readings are addressed to these same family themes of marriage and divorce. Scripture today emphasis the importance of unity, Christian love, the need to care for the weak- such as children, the vulnerable of the society, and the need to reflect on what makes for a successful marriage; what promote mutual complementarity as exemplified in the unity and sanctity of Christian marriage.

 In the first reading ( Gen 2:18-24),  we are told a man shall leave his father and mother  and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh, while in  the Gospel  we are reminded that God has joined together let no one separate(Mark 10:2-9).  This is also what we have been taught over the years in the Catechism that marriage, is a matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation, education of offspring, and this covenant between two baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of the sacrament.
These understanding and teaching is constantly been threatened by modern secular laws of some nations!  In the face of such threats how does the Christian community in these nations preach, teach and live Christian marriage- with regard  to same –sex marriages and divorces!

 Of course divorce in the first century divorce was a generally an acceptable practice both among the Jews and within the wider context of the Greco-Roman world. It was also a topic of constantly legal debate. In this debate among the Jewish legal community, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was a key text, one that assumes divorce will occur and proscribes procedures for carrying it out. But today’s readings in particular call the permissibility of divorce into question.

 In the Gospel, the Pharisees who asked Jesus “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife, did so to test Jesus! They wanted to know if Jesus was against or for- families, only to be reminded by Christ that they misunderstood the scripture, which they interpreted to justify their errors!

 In Jesus’ view marriage should not just be about legality,  but love, endurance, perseverance, sacrifice, respect and care! What the ancient people initially practiced in Deut 24:1-4 was due to human weaknesses. For Jesus we can always do better by looking back into God’s love of creation in today’s first reading (Gen 1:27; 2:24). God out of love created man and woman in his own image, to love him, through how they love, help, treat, and respect each other mutually. From Adam’s ribs God created Eve- they become one bone and one flesh. No separation! Of course no right thinking person  would do harm to his own flesh and bones! No one breaks his or her own bones!

  No doubt, in the ancient world women and children were treated as goods, and properties. Some men used divorce to their own advantage. Women and children were signs of economic stability and social privileges, but Jesus throughout his ministry gives everyone, women, the poor, the lowly, children a place in the family structure. Women and children are no longer passive objects of God’s kingdom- they all belong to God’s kingdom.

 Today’s readings also reminds us that we live in a culture that divorce could be initiated by either a man or the woman for various reasons- political, social, cultural and economic. Economically, even though divorce still leads people, especially women (in some cultures) into financial difficulties- divorce women today (in some places) do not always find themselves economically challenged as their ancient counterparts- perhaps one of the reasons for high rate of divorce?

 Regardless of good or better economics, scripture lessons today, among other themes, stress wholeness, oneness, unity and mutual respect to all including the little children, even in moment of challenges and trials!  In the Gospel Christ explicitly says, “let the little children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to them (Mark 10:13-15). Children are vulnerable and are often the true victims of divorce, something we must also keep in mind. Divorce or failed marriages,  can bring family, society, hurt, pain and brokenness- even in those circumstances(domestic violence, unfaithfulness etc) when divorce seem to appear to be the best among all available options. Therefore, what God has joined together let no human being separate!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Homily 26th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 26th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Num 11:25-29; Ps 19:8.10.12-14; Jas 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48.

 Shared Mission of Christ to All!

The readings of today strike on several spiritual and pastoral notes, particularly on the note of the shared mission of Christ. This reminds us of the current recurring theme of inclusiveness that Pope Francis recently carries to the Philippines, Cuba, and United States and to the world as a whole. Imagine what it would have taken the Holy Father to successfully arrived in the United States, the entire visits to the lowly and the highly, the speeches, Masses, in the Washington DC, New York and at Philadelphia – the cooking, the preparations, the securities- all these required shared spirit of responsibilities, dialogue, and leadership among various agencies and cultures!

The 1st reading of today ( Num 11:25-29) speaks of the spirit of Moses’ been shared among other seventy elders, particularly between Eldad and Medad. Both of these men were heard and seen prophesying outside the camp, in the periphery of the tents of “the cathedral,” because God had given them the spirit! In this scriptures, notice, it was Joshua, Moses’ associate and would be successor who launched that human complaint saying, “Moses, my lord stop them.”  But Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake?”

In our mission and duties we are invited to listen to Moses. Of course, this is the same Moses that Pope Francis recently referenced as our model in his addressed to the joint Congress of the United! A patient and unjealous Moses willing to prophetically share his gifts, willing to include others- the rich and the poor, the low and the high in the mission of the Lord- as against the jealous ones who objected  the participation of Eldad and Medad. This can easily happen to any of us, especially those who hang around the corridors of power and leadership!

The Mission of the Church, in our dioceses, parishes, stations, towns and cities, would always belong to Christ, not to us.  An Inclusive and a universal! Are we willing to include others- the poor, the rich, men, women, children, and the youths- everyone in the mission of the Church that transcends jealousy and human barriers!  

Similar message is heard in the Gospel (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48). There is an unknown exorcist who went about healing, exorcising! John steps- in like Joshua in that Book of Numbers and complaint to Christ, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus’ response to John should be our guide. Jesus says, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak of ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” How often do we not consciously or unconsciously prevent and exclude others, in our speeches, gestures, looks, and body languages!

In fact very easy for gifted people to exclude others or abuse their gifts and offices. Joshua and John were gifted people. Joshua would succeed Moses. John was one of the closest disciples of Jesus! He was young and an athletic. He arrived at the tomb of Jesus before Peter. Quite gifted! Gifted people, nations and institutions can easily fail to recognize the gifts of others.  For example, it is very easy due to jealousy, for good preachers to ignore the preaching skills of others. For the same reason, it is very easy for good writers to ignore the writing skills of others. It is very easy for good singers to ignore the singing talents of others. It is very easy for sport stars to ignore (perhaps out of jealousy, ignorance, indifference, insensitivity) the sporting gifts of others- especially those on the periphery!  Also as noted in the 2nd reading, the material wealth that God has blessed us with must be seen as a gift. They should be well utilized and distributed not abused.

 The readings of today as a whole, invite those who deny workers their wages and exploit the poor and the voiceless to rethink their choices. It also invite those in leadership positions, both inside and outside the church to see the missions especially of the  of the gospel as a mission of many parts, yet with one body- the Church- given to be shared among her members, particularly with with those in the margins of the community, as physically, pastorally and spiritually exemplified by Pope Francis in his recent global pastoral visits!



Friday, September 18, 2015

Homily 25th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Homily 25th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Wis 2:12, 17-20; Ps 54:3-4, 5, 6-8; Jas 3:16-4:3 and Mark 9:30-37
Responding to Sufferings Righteously!

 The Bible readings of today build on the theme of last Sunday, namely, “the meaning of Christian suffering and how we respond to them in faith and righteousness”!
A righteous person, a saddiq, in the history of salvation is a peaceful person; a hard working person, humble, wise, prudent, compliant, obedient, docile, quite, faithful and prayerful. The righteous obeys God, speaks the truth, challenges evil and injustices, does the will of God, and handles sufferings, adversities, tragedies, deaths, and accidents with care, patient and hope in the Lord our Friend and Master!

These characteristics are seen in biblical figures like Abraham, Job, Israel’s prophets, -- Habakkuk, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, Joseph and Mary, and of course, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Beside these biblical figures, there are many people and saints in our life time, in our cultures, towns, villages and neighborhood that we can always look onto as examples and models of faith and righteous endurance in the midst of persecutions and trials. For example, Oscar Romero died celebrating Mass. Maximilian Kolbe died so that a married family with children could live. Mother Teresa of Calcutta chose simplicity of life for the poor. John Paul II bore his suffering to the end, publicly, in front of the TV cameras! In fact, good parents in some cultures prefer to go starving, so that their children would eat, have good education or medical care. The list can go on—there are still many hope givers in our communities!

As to the 1st reading of today,  (Wis 2:12, 17-20)  many have basically  describe it as a homily based on 4th song of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and the surrounding texts. The righteous person will be afflicted (Isa. 52:14; 53:26) people will be amazed the salvation he brings (Isa. 52:15) and people will repent. Wisdom of Solomon, today’s 1st reading, like Deutero-Isaiah, is a story of persecution and exaltation of the righteous one, the saddiq. The Lord will always protect and defend the life of the just one, no matter what! The Lord upholds their lives (Ps 54:6b).

As mentioned earlier every age, time and culture has its own life -- challenges, trials, sufferings, vississituteds, and difficulties to deal with. To start with the Jews in exiles were not an exception. Responding to the Alexandrian Jews who were suffering or had recently suffered persecution- the author of the Book of Wisdom writes to comfort them, to explain their ordeal and to give them hope.
In the community of Saint James of today’s 2nd reading (Jas 3:16-4:3) sufferings were orchestrated for some members due to rivalries, disorders, envy and jealousy. James, like the author of the Book of Wisdom recommends peace, selflessness and hope in wisdom from above which is pure, peaceable, gentle, understanding, compliant and mercy-- that only Christ can bring!

The more reason, Christ himself would insist in the Gospel( Mark 9:30-37) that his disciple – understand that,  (like Servant of Isaiah), the “Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise,”—simply foretelling his enduring sufferings and trials!  Remember, Christ said this to a tensed group of disciples who were rivaling and arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest! Under this circumstances Our Lord recommends not only wisdom, but the attitude of a child and of a humble, sincere, docile, self-surrendering, servant to the will of the Master!

For ourselves today, how often do we not strife to put ourselves before others? Envy, inordinate ambition, jealousy, selfishness and many other unrighteous acts are common in various religious, and socio-cultural communities’ today- making life more difficult for its members! In some places, those who speak the truth and keep the basic Christian tenets  and the teachings of the Church are castigated, ridiculed and persecuted! In those moments of sufferings—whatever form it may come to you --let us righteously respond to such challenges like Christ and the  suffering servants, the just one, or the little child, in today’s readings be trustful, and hopeful in the glorious and saving grace of Jesus Christ our Lord and Master!




Saturday, September 12, 2015

Homily 24th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily  24th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 50:5-9a; Ps 116:1-9; Jas 2:14-18 and Mark 8:27-35
The Meaning of Christian Suffering!

Many, if not all of us do experience sufferings in one form or the other. I mean we do know what sufferings looks like. It can come to us today in form of hunger, poverty, and protracted illness. It can come to us in the loss of our loved ones, loss of land, property, homes, and treasures, in tragedies, persecutions, bad leaderships, oppression, in the wars nations fight, in wars and acts of terrorism, negligence, actions, or indifference to the well – being our neighbors.  Of course, there are some sufferings too, that we may not fully and humanly comprehend! The Bible lessons of today are addressed not only to these sufferings and their causes, but scripture reminds us of how we all were baptized into a Christian communities to daily imitate Christ at all cost, boast in his cross, in our suffering love, and patience endurance, without rebellion!

 In today’s first reading (Isa 50:5-9a), the 3rd Song of the Suffering Servant of God, which would eventually points to the sufferings of Christ, prophet Isaiah sings of the experiences of Israel  in Babylon during their exile.  The Suffering servant speaks specifically in the first person of the enduring suffering that a faithful God’s servant would have to  undergo in moments of trials and challenges, which would include the loss of home land, properties, family members, freedom to trade, plant vineyard and even to  practice their faith.  The suffering servant says, “I have not rebelled, have not turned back” …“I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard, my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” This servant teaches us how to be aware of God’s presence in our lives and how to endure suffering, knowing that the Lord God who is our helper, will not put us to shame.

 In the gospel reading, Christ’s disciples, including Peter, lack this deeper awareness. I want to believe this is why he rebukes Christ, when Our Lord spoke openly that the Son of man was destined to suffer greatly, persecuted, rejected by the elders, the chief priest and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days! Of course, this prophecy came to a fulfilment!  Peter thought like a human being, like any of us would. But, God often speaks mysteriously to us, even in Christ's ministries, particularly in the events of the Cross of the Calvary which we relive every Holy Week of our liturgical year. The cost of discipleship; the cost of salvation entails sacrifices and endurance, patience, faith, in the midst of trials and sufferings.

Truly there are sufferings that are “artificial and manmade;” such as exploitation of our neighbors, institutional hatred, violent, and injustices committed against others, greed, selfishness, indifference and lack of charity to one’s neighbor. This is what Saint James addresses in the 2nd reading. Saint James asks, What good is it if someone says he or she has faith but lacks compassion and is uncharitable towards his or her neighbors? Words, deeds and good works must go together.

Pope Francis has spoken enough of this! Indifference behavior from richer nations, institutions, towns and individual rich powerful neighbors to poorer ones  is as bad as perpetuating any other form of hardship and sufferings on our poor neighbors. Neglecting the poor, the weak, the voiceless, is as bad as pulling their beards and beating their cheeks which  the Suffering Servant, 3rd Isaiah, spoke about in the 1st reading.  Poverty here is not restricted to material poverty. The young ones  who are rich with strength and physical energy in the name of Christ are encouraged to support their seniors, the physically weak, their elders, parents and grandparents. Other examples abounds.  Richer nations, for instance, should make education affordable to all. This can go a long way to reduce pains, injuries, and sufferings caused by the disease of ignorance!

Whatever form that we may individually or as a family, group, or Church experience persecutions, exploitation, discriminations, threats to  traditional Christian values, trials, sufferings we always want to imitate Christ- his patience, his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his endurance, his perseverance,-- who generously and selflessly went to the Cross on our behalf!.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Homily 23rd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily 23rd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 35:4-7a; Ps 146:7-10; James 2:1-5 and Mark 7:31-37
Hope in the Lord in Solidarity with Our Neighbors

 Fear, illnesses, blindness, dumbness, uncertainties, threats of war, earthquake, death, immigration issues and poverty are nothing new.  They have always been part and parcel of human existence of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. The difference lies in how we respond to them today, at this moment. As Christians we are invited in the bible readings of today, to respond with hope and trust in the Lord and in solidarity with our neighbors, especially the poor, without being partial.

In the 1st reading when the friends, brothers and sisters of Isaiah experienced these things, for every good reason: wars and threats of foreign powers, Isaiah stepped up as God’s messenger. He reminded his community that: ‘thus says the Lord say to those whose heart is frightened, be strong, fear not…. He comes to save us. The blind will see, the deaf will hear the lame will walk, the mute will sing, the thirsty and he poor will have something to drink and eat. In these words, put in prophetically in the future tenses, lies the message of Hope for every one of us confronted in any given challenges- including the challenge poor.

St. James in the 2nd reading pays particular attention to the poor, just like our current, Pope Francis and many preachers from Latin America and other parts of the world! Truly, at functions and gatherings we tend to humanly pay attention most to the rich, the wealthy, and those who bring us big moneys and  other favors! But for Saint James it should not be so. Christians should do better, avoid partiality and discrimination in dealing with our neighbors, deaf or blind, rich or poor, bearing in mind that, God actually chose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those  who love him(Jas 2:1-5).

In the Gospel, Christ, the Son of God intensified this will of his father, as he does throughout his ministry,- fulfilling all the promises his father had made to the poor, the remnant , the lowly who love and obey him, though Israel’s prophet, particularly Isaiah.  We would recall, in Luke 4, in the beginning of his ministry, he says, “the spirit of the Lord is upon me…..” Christ has been faithful to his mission of love, to heal and care for the needy.
He does exactly that, in the district of Decapolis in today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37). He healed the deaf man brought to him. He removed his speech impediments in a divine dramatic fashion by spitting on his finger, and commanded his mouth be “be opened” as he raise his eyes to the Father in prayers.

None of us is perfect! Our society is not perfect! We have our own individual and community impediments- physical and spiritually. We have our own “deafness’ and “blindness.”  Refusal to opt for the poor is a form of blindness, just as the act of partiality against our neighbors.  Think of the gap between the richer and poorer nations today. Think of the images we see on our TV today; the immigration crises, our borders, that recent wars have caused, the monopoly in international trades and marketing, the indifference and  insensitivity of public office holders to those who elected them, the negative effect of social media on our children and grandchildren, threats to traditional institutions, like families and marriages. These and many more are some of the areas of our deafness, and blindness, so to say, that we need to call upon the help of God, and hope in his healing mercies.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Homily (2) 22nd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily (2) 22nd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 4:1-2, 6-8; Ps 15:2-5; Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

  “The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord” (Ps 15.1a).

 These words of Psalm 15 capture in a nut-shell the essence of today’s Bible lessons- that Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to perfect it , to renew it, and to highlight the spiritual and moral dimensions of our laws. Granted we all have customs, values and traditions, they are constantly subject to updates and renewal in the light of the divine revelation.  This is so, since the Word of God needs be put into daily practice by loving, caring for the poor, the marginalized, the aged, our parents, and by forgiving those who may have offended us, of all ages, time and culture- the same scriptural theme that Pope Francis has repeated over and over again since the beginning of his papacy!  

In the 1st reading, Deut 4, the Lord invites Israel to listen (shama) and observe his words, his commandments. I want to suggest that one way to respond to this divine invitation is through listening to Deut 4 within the broader context of the Book of Deuteronomy- “second laws”. Emphasis in Deut as a whole, is on updating some of the laws, including the 10 commandments and ritual practices we heard earlier in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus. Deuteronomy for instance, updates, and teaches Israel, and invites all of us, indirectly, to listen, obey, worship God in a central place, to be more humanitarian, more caring, just, and inclusive of men, women, children and slaves, from the bottom of our hearts, in our  faith practice (Deut 12-17), something that the Pharisees  of today’s  Gospel seemed to be lacking! They were distracted by their self righteousness!

 In the Gospel, Christ responds and challenges their externalism of traditional ritual washing of hands before meals. For Christ these rituals should never be the beginning and the end of religious practice, but faith, kindness, charity, righteousness, and justice that come from within. Washing the inside is as important as washing the outside, and perhaps more important as stressed by most Israel’s prophets. Granted  that the Pharisees, as depicted in today’s gospel debates, kept both the written and oral laws, Christ follows the footsteps of Israel’ prophets, like Isaiah and Amos, and offers a renewed direction. Worship and religious practice must come from within and not be limited to mere lip services, nor to external procession to ancient Shrines! Amos 5, like Psalms 15 and 24, is so strong about this. The Lord Rejects, empty rituals, songs, and offerings without justice and morality.

In order word, a true and deeply religious person, who has a deep sense of love for his/her neighbor and  provide social justice a place in his or her heart would be sensitive even  to those destructive social vices listed by Christ in today’s Gospel- unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly.    A deeply religious person, Saint James, affirms also in the 2nd reading, is the one that transcends hypocrisy, but  cares for orphans and widows in their afflictions!

In sum, the Bible readings of today, among other things, challenge us to reevaluate how we love, care for our neighbors, support victims of katrina, bokoharam, terrorisms and wars, from the bottom of our hearts. Our physical distance might be far from them. Our traditions, customs, values and culture, different, but we can still accompany them, those victims of social injustice, bad leadership and governanance all over the world, the poor, the needy, the orphans, the neglected, the voiceless, the sexually and racially abused, in our prayers and through acts of charity. As a friend of mine once puts it, “Washing the fruit we buy should not be more important than feeding the hungry.”




Friday, August 21, 2015

Homily (2) 21st Sunday Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 21st Sunday Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17,18b; Ps 34; 2-3, 16-21; Eph 5:2a, 25-32 and John 6:60-69

“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life’ (Jn 6:68):
 These words of Peter in today’s Gospel, reminds us that life, is not a bed of Roses! There are moments in our studies, work, vocations, and occupations, civil, religious and Christian journeys that we encounter dryness, confusion, frustration, different voices, reasons and disbeliefs to give up. And there are moments we feel energized, challenged to believe, and to hold onto our true Christian faith. The entire Bible readings of today, from Joshua,  Paul and  to this last section of John 6, which captures these words of Peter “Lord to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life,” are addressed to these moments, from Joshua’s generations to our present time, in all towns and cultures!
 Granted that the journey to the Promised Land has been long, in Moses’ and Joshua’s generations- some were thirsty, tired, hungry, and dusty on the road. Distractions, voices, supermarkets, from the worshippers of the gods of the Amorites arose. Without faith and concentration it would have been easier to slip away, break the covenant, or ignore all the goodness, and saving miracles wrought by the Lord. The first reading is a testimony of renewal. In a renewed spirit, Joshua and the house of Israel testified that they would continue to serve the Lord. By implication, they would dispose themselves, and allow the Lord to cultivate them in his loving mysterious divine relationship. Joshua’s generation would remain submissive and obedient to the Lord, his teachings and mysteries, in spite of the challenges of their time. Nothing would separate them from the love of God!
In the 2nd reading, St. Paul stresses this loving human divine relationship with a metaphor of husband-wife loving, faithful, and trusting relationship. Although we live in a time of high rate of divorce, husbands and wives must talk, love, respect each other as Christ would to the Church. This affirms the challenges of living the word of God. This is the challenging mystery of Christ’s loving relationship with, us, the Church, which is not unconnected to the Gospel stories!

In John 6, today’s Gospel, begun many Sundays ago, we have been consistently challenged to believe in the miracle of the multiplication of the 2 few fish and  5 loaves of bread; the feeding of the crowd with it, and the whole message that Christ is the Bread of life come down from heaven; the source of eternal life!
It was challenging to many who murmured. Today it is challenging to those who listened to Christ. Many, we are told in the gospel, walked away. But as for Peter and other disciples, they have no choice, but to stick with Christ, the source of the words of eternal life.

Interestingly, this is the same wobbling Peter: once very outspoken; once sunk in the sea faithlessly; once tempted to deny Christ three times.  We can see ourselves in Peter, sometimes! Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, in his work: To whom shall we Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter, page 14,[read if for yourselves…] uniquely invites us to see ourselves in Peter, especially when our faith journey seems to be difficult. And when we think we have made a lot of mistakes on the way, or our faith is not sufficient, or our burdens are too heavy to carry.

Peter’s words becomes urgent in today’s church, world, time culture, faced with many challenges, [Yes, there are acts of pride, anger, frustration, sicknesses, family crises, high rate of divorces, selfishness, neglect of the poor, worship of money, abuse of drugs and sex, injustices, faith denials, betrayals, loss of jobs and loved ones, abuse of power and corruption in public offices etc] that makes following Christ somehow challenging, and walking away more easy.
In such moments we are invited to fall back to the words spoken by Joshua and Paul, particularly of Peter in today’s Gospel, “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”