The 'arms' of the Church reach out to the world, to all people
Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 16:13-20):
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’ Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Up to the point that Simon Peter announced that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God Jesus had revealed himself through the performing of miracles and sermons. But now things were changing. Jesus was about to reveal a little more about his mission to his disciples; to reveal that he was sent to earth to do more than simply heal and forgive. He was here to establish a Church.
What good would it have been if Jesus had simply come to forgive our sins? Yes it would have been great but why not give us the opportunity to grow closer to him day by day, to help change the world for the better? That is why Jesus established the Church! He wanted us to love him more and more each day. He wanted us to develop our relationship with him more and more each day. He wants us to surrender to his love more and more each day! He also wants us to go out and tell the world of his love. The Church is a church of mission. It is not a Church willing to sit back and rest on its laurels. It is not a Church confined to the chosen ones, nor is it a Church confined to buildings. We must recognise that the Church is open, reaching out to all people in all situations. Just look at the ‘arms’ around St Peter’s Square in Rome as they curve around the Square and reach out to the world. We are those ‘arms’. We must go out and comfort all people and wrap them up in the love of Christ.
Jesus needs us to spread his love. Our mission is not to be quiet about our faith and to keep it to ourselves or our families. No, our mission it to reach out to the world; to tell all people of Jesus’ love and to tell all people of the ‘one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ founded by Christ and built on the rock that is Peter.