Upon This Rock I will Build My Church

Week of August 27, 2017

In this life-giving Gospel, as they all are, Jesus calls Peter forth in the midst of the other disciples and lifts up his journey.  Jesus calls him the rock upon which He will build His church.  This is very subtle and significant.  Jesus calls forth a human being to be the foundation of the Church.  Jesus could have built the Church any way He wanted.  He could have built it upon angels and archangels.  He could have made the foundation from another created substance since He is the Son of God.  But He calls forth the disciples and addresses Peter, the leader who is flawed, the one who doubts and is a sinner and says to Him, “You are rock and upon this rock I will build my Church”.  This lifts up the value of our life, our dignity and what God expects of us, which is to be Church, and we are. This Church of Jesus Christ is a human vehicle.  It is based on our lives as a foundation.  This means we are entrusted to do the work of heaven, to do the work of eternity.  It also means the Church is not perfect.  Humans are not perfect.  It also means the Church is in need of mercy.  We are all in need of mercy and forgiveness.  It means the Church is flawed, but that is how God called it.

The best definition of Church I ever heard of was when I was still in the seminary. It was an analogy that likened the Church to a broken down pickup truck.  The windshield wipers need replacing. One of the tail lights needs repair. It is rusting around the wheel wells, but it is the truck you have.  So every day, you put the keys in the ignition and you drive it.  The Church is a broken vehicle that God chooses to use and it leads us to the things that are eternal.

Because of this we are called to be Church.  We are called to involve and invest ourselves in how we can be a part of the vehicle.  Each and every one of us, by virtue of our Baptism, are asked to use this vehicle and help others use this vehicle to get ourselves closer to God and God closer to His people.  This lifts us to a high standard.  The Church’s foundation is the spirituality of our lives.  We are not abandoned.  We also know that the promise of God is not only to never abandon His Church, but to also sanctify it by what He did on the cross.  The traditions of the Church are a pathway of revelation.  God uses this revelation.  God uses us.  When the Lord used the word “rock”, He meant stone that is unfinished with jagged edges.  Jesus did not say, you are a building block upon which I will build my Church.  By reflecting deeply on this great commissioning of Peter and the apostolic tradition of the Church, we realize the importance of our lives on earth.  God has chosen us, like Peter, to be the foundation of the Church and this is not out of our reach.  This is to give us great joy in the belief God has in us.

On this day may we be the best of a foundation so others may see our faith and believe.

Reverend John J. Ouper