SIMON, YOU ARE A HAPPY MAN: ARE YOU A HAPPY PERSON? Prayer Reflection for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Yr. A.

Happiness is a state of well being and the highest goal of man. Hence people do alot of things in order achieve it, only to discover not everything brings it. No wonder the restlessness and the continuous search for Happiness. No wonder the greeds, cheatings, thefts, corruptions, selfishness, etc that characterise this search. But what actually constitute true happiness? What answer can we proffer to explain the experience of a wealthy man who is not happy or a poor man is who is happy? Why did Jesus call Simon a happy man and changed his name to Peter? Is it because of a question well answered? These questions bothered my heart as I meditated on the word of God, but the Lord answered me as soon as I began to pray! If You wish to know His response read slowly...

C.f: Matthew 16:13-20
‘But you,’ he [Jesus] 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.’

1. Jesus calls Peter a happy man because of evidence of the power of God at work in him: "not flesh and blood...but my father in heaven revealed this to you." And he gives him a new name conferring to him a new Purpose or Mission or Destiny!
[If you wish to know the Power of Names, and Why you should not give arbitrary names to your children or wards, Click here]

2. The Lord instructed me and said: True Happiness is my work! It is a function of divine action! It comes from Faith in Jesus whom God sent. Hence the Bible says in the first psalm: "Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law [Word] of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night."

3. True happiness does not come from following the path of evil but delighting in the law of God contained in His Word [Jesus] and following Him consistently DAY and NIGHT. Understanding Day and Night should transcend the literal meaning of these moments as duration of Time but ascend to the spiritual understanding of Day as MOMENTS OF CLARITY and Night as MOMENTS OF CONFUSION! We are more delighted in moments of clarity! We sense or feel the goodness of God in our lives, but feel awful in moments of confusions-when we experience dark nights in our souls. Do you delight in God when you experience dark nights or you complain, doubt and break faith? 
[If you are experiencing dark nights and is struggling to come out of it, Click Here]

4. Simon was given a new name Peter, which means "rock"- the foundation on which the church is built. He was also given Keys 🔑 to lock and unlock: to bind and loose any situation: of things in heaven and things on earth; symbolising both spiritual and temporal authority of the Church on earth whose visible head is the Pope- the vicar of Christ. 
Do you believe this? If you do why do you fret and swing in moments of darkness! Why do we break faith and leave the church in search of help or answers to our many questions elsewhere? 
If you do not believe that Peter (rock) and his successors, the Pope is the foundation of Christ's Church and this confers on him a special divine character of infallibility in teaching Christian faith and morals, what else do you want to believe? Do you think this teaching is a make-up by catholics or the Apostles to advance catholic doctrines? No you are mistaken! Now listen, when Christ Jesus who came to fulfil the law and prophets was performing that divine act, he was actually fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 22:19-23: 
"Thus says the Lord of Hosts to Shebna, the master [steward] of the palace: I dismiss you from your office, I remove you from your post, and the same day I call on my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I invest him with your robe, gird him with your sash, entrust him with your authority; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the House of Judah. I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open. I drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a throne of glory for his father’s house."

Can you now see clearly the parallels with the Gospel according to Matthew? Can you now see how Eliakim who replaces Shebna was addressed: Eliakim son of Hilkiah? So also Peter was addressed by Jesus: Simon son of Jonah! It was the Lord speaking through his prophet; removing Shebnar from office as steward or vicar (helper) of the king. Have you also forgotten the kings seat on the Throne of David whose dynasty lasts forever; and Jesus is the Son of David who perpetuates this prophecy in the new Jerusalem-the Church (Matt.1:1-17); and by addressing Peter that way, was actually appointing and instituting him as Assistant (vicar) or Steward of his Church- a church that is built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone (Eph 2, 20)?
Dearest friend the Catholic church has everything: both physical and spiritual help to our various needs and answers to our many questions.

Learn from Peter our first visible head, as he calls out to Jesus: "Lord save me" when he was sinking in doubts- a time he experienced his own dark night! (Matt 14:30). Learn also from him not to abandon the Lord Jesus but returning always to him after betraying his love. Don't let shame of your sins steal your relationship with Jesus for its the devil's accusations against you. Rather confess your love three times or more to Jesus like Peter did whenever you fall in order to cancel your many sins (c.f John 21:15). This is what the church from time immemorial have continuously done till date following the example of her visible head. That is the only way to safeguard true happiness: walking with Lord in the light of his love! For He sheds his glory on our way as we continue to do His Will. 

TASK: Sing this song now and understand to understand the message above:
When we walk with the Lord. In the Light of his Word; what a glory he sheds on our way! 
While we do his good will; He abides with us still; And with all who will trust and obey?
Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey! (2x).

▪︎Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ
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