21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

“But who do you say that I am?”

Matthew 16:13-20

Begin with a few moments of quiet.

The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered.

Invite all present to sit comfortably.

When sitting comfortably, take three deep breaths, as you breathe in feel your lungs filling all the way up, when they are full slowly release your breath and feel your lungs emptying out fully. Repeat this three times.

Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?

Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so.
If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.

Led by the Spirit- Eric Nordhoff

Introduce the Gospel

On this Sunday we celebrate the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

This rich Gospel story can invite us in different directions. The primary level is indicated by the direct question: But you, who do you say I am? This question is never out of date and always timely. In our day, such reflection cannot ignore the contemporary perspectives of cosmology, evolution and ecology. 

Read the GospelMatthew 16:13-20
Read the Gospel aloud, even if you are on your own.

Caesarea Philippi courtesy of
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony

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.

Reflect on the Gospel

Sit quietly now for a few moments and allow the images created by hearing the Gospel to emerge. Use some quietening music again if you wish

Spiegel im Spiegel – Arvo Pärt

Use one or more of the following prompts to help in reflecting on this Gospel passage. Alternatively, use the video below as a means of reflecting on this Gospel through imagery

  1. This marks a turning point in the life of Jesus, and of the disciples. It is the first time that his disciples recognise him as the Messiah.
    Recall turning points in your own journey of faith when you came to some deeper understanding of
    who Jesus is.
  2. “Who do you say that I am?” This is possibly the most important question that Jesus puts to us.
    In your heart of hearts, how do you answer this question today?
  3. Jesus praises Peter for his faith and comments that this was not his own doing but a gift of God. Perhaps there have been times when you have been conscious of the gift nature of your faith. Be
    thankful for the gift you have received.

Finish this part with a Prayer

Living God, you sent your Son among us to reveal your wisdom and make known your ways. Increase our faith, that we may confess Jesus as your Son, take up his work on earth, and trust his promise to sustain the Church.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Guided Reflection on Who do you say I am?

Prayer of the Faithful

In the Mass, the prayer of the faithful are the people’s response to their reflection on the Scripture readings and are spoken to God in the second person. The following have been prepared by myself for this weekend.

Begin: God of our being, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. We take heart from knowing you are living within us and therefore can turn to You with our prayer for our world, our community and ourselves.

For the Church, the people gathered here and in Your name in all places…pause… that we may grow in better understanding of each other’s traditions, and through that in greater cooperation in living Your Gospel. Lord hear us

For all who starting back to schools this week: …pause… that pupils and teachers may find ways to learn and grow in wisdom and love amid the challenges of the new ways they have of being together. Lord hear us

For all who are discerning where You are calling them in their life: …pause…  that they may recognise the promptings of Your Spirit and be open to how they can best love and serve through their life commitments. Lord hear us

For healing in our country and world: …pause…   That leaders will be open to Your guidance in addressing issues of racism, discrimination, and injustice in our communities, turn hearts from violence, and open pathways leading to reconciliation. Lord hear us

For greater stewardship of the earth: …pause… that our hearts may be moved as we behold Your wondrous work in nature so that we may care for it in order that future generations may also see Your Creation. Lord hear us

For all who are grieving: …pause… that Your renewing and healing presence may comfort them and fill them with hope. Lord hear us

For our own intentions: name those intentions you specifically want to mention 
Lord hear us

For all who have died  ………. name those people you specifically want to remember 
Lord hear us

Gathering Prayer:

Living God, you sent your Son among us to reveal your wisdom and make known your ways. Increase our faith, that we may confess Jesus as your Son, take up his work on earth, and trust his promise to sustain the Church. Amen.

Close the time of Prayer with the Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Additional Resources

Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written or on Video

Additional Video: On this weekend we invite you to use the video that the children’s liturgy is using. It is from St. Albans Diocese and offers another perspective on the Gospel and invites us to ponder it.

The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.

The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.