24th Sunday in Ordinary Time           

            You should be thankful for the people whom God places in your life. You should love them dearly. You should treat them with honor and respect. You should do all you can to maintain the unity and peace of your relationships with them. You should be willing to give to and serve them. You should be open to them as they speak into your life. You should recognize that you were designed to live in loving community with others like them. BUT you cannot look to them to provide for you what only God can provide.

            According to Paul David Tripp, there are many, many Christian relationships that are hurtful, painful, and marked by conflict and disappointment because the people in those relationships are placing a burden on those relationships that no human relationship can bear. If you hook the hope of your heart to the people around you, you will always be disappointed. No one is capable of being your personal messiah. No person can be the source of your identity. No one can be the basis of your happiness. No individual can give you a reason to get up in the morning and go on. No loved one can be the carrier of your hope. No one is able to change you from the inside out. No human being can alter your past. No person is able to atone for your wrongs. No one can give your heart peace and rest.

            Asking another human being to do those things is like requiring him or her to be the fourth member of the Trinity – to be another ‘god’ – and then judging him or her when he or she falls short. It simply cannot and will not work. You see, it is vital to remember that human love is a wonderful thing, but you will only ever find life – real, heart-changing, soul-satisfying life – in a vertical relationship.

            We should enjoy human love, but we should look to God for our spiritual vitality and strength. We should commit to long-term, loving, mutually serving relationships, but we must remember that only God can save us, only God can change us, only God can deliver us from us. We should be willing to make sacrifices of love for others, but we should place our hope only in the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.

            “You are the Christ.” This is Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question in today’s gospel reading: “Who do you say that I am?” The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which means “anointed.”“ Christ” is the title of the Savior and Redeemer who would bring salvation to humankind.

            Jesus’ question is also addressed to each one of us: “Who do you say that I am?” We must give the same answer with Peter: You are the Christ, the Messiah… You are my one and only Savior.”

            But the sad reality is that we consider other ‘christs’, we give our loyalty and allegiance to other ‘messiahs’, we put our faith and trust in other ‘saviors’. Let me put it in another way… Could it be that the disappointments and frustrations you experience in your relationships is the product of unrealistic and unattainable expectations? Could it be that you have unwittingly put persons and things and ideologies in God’s place? Could it be that you ask somebody or something else to do for you what only God can do? Could it be that you believe in someone who has a messianic complex? Paul David Tripp states this striking point: “If you hook the hope of your heart to the people around you, you will always be disappointed.” “No one is able to be your personal messiah.”

            There is but one Christ, one Messiah, one Savior… and HE is ours… forever! We are asked to profess our faith in Christ. May our personal and genuine profession of faith enable us to allow our Messiah, our Savior, to save us from everything that enslaves us… to take us out of the darkness of our sinfulness… to redeem us from our selfishness and greed… to free us from our attachments and addictions… to relieve us from our pain and suffering… to rescue us from our misery and hopelessness… to liberate us from our hatred and violence… to release us from our resentment and bitterness… to deliver us from our worries, fears, and anxieties. Only the Lord Jesus can be our Messiah, our Savior. Only HE can change and transform us. Only HE can liberate and save us. 

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