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A sermon on Matthew 16:13-20

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By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro,
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield),
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)

I received a phone call last week that turned into a "hmmm" moment, where I both laughed and learned something important. 

A lady remembered me from Children's Hospital and wanted to pay me a visit at St. Mary. 

She asked, "How is Fr. Mike doing?" 

I replied, "pretty good for an old man." 

With her next question, I realized she did not know she was speaking with me, but believing me to be someone else who knew me. I did not reveal my identity, but played along to learn what she might say about me. How mischievous of me. The following is part of our conversation which was a hoot:

Woman: "Do you get to see Fr. Mike very often?"

Me: "Quite a bit. We dine together frequently."

Woman: "Please don't take this the wrong way but is he still...chubby?"

Me: "Oh yeah. He can still play Santa Claus without needing a pillow."

Woman: (laughing) "He looked jolly. We liked him because he seemed happy. He lifted my spirits when I was having a bad day."

Me: "Was there anything you didn't like about him"?

Woman: (pausing) "No, I can't think of anything. (Another pause) Wait, there was this one thing." 

Me: (now regretting my question) "What was that?"

Woman: 'Well, I liked his sermons, but sometimes he rambled, making the sermon a tad too long. Have you noticed that, too?"

Me: "Fr. Mike is aware of that. That's why he writes out all of his sermons."

Woman: "That's good. I remember Fr. Mike as being kind to people. I want to tell him that."

Me: "I'll be sure to tell him. He will appreciate that more than you will ever know." 

When you leave this world, how do you want to be remembered? 

What if you could read your own obituary? This actually happened. 

Alfred Nobel was sitting at his kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the morning newspaper. His brother, Ludvig recently died the day before in 1888. But the newspaper accidentally wrote the obituary about Alfred. 

The inventor of dynamite was dismayed about how he was remembered. They called him "the merchant of death."

One line of the obituary read, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday." 

Nobel was appalled. This inspired Alfred to create the Nobel Peace Prize, donating his entire vast fortune to causes of peace. 

Jesus asks the question, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 

But an even more important question is, "Who does the Son of Man (Jesus) say that I am?" 

How will Jesus remember you in your judgment? Have you lived your life in a way that Jesus will remember you as faithful to Him? Will He remember you as living Micah 6:8, "This is what the Lord requires of you. Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God." 

Jesus requires that you connect your faith with your actions. Faith is more than an intellectual mind game. Faith means walking with Jesus by treating others
right, showing kindness and lifting up those who weary from the journey.

When Alfred died in 1898, he was isolated, surrounded by servants who did not speak his language. His last written words were "how sad it is to be without a friend who could whisper a consoling word." 

When I die, I hope Jesus tells me who I am with this one consoling word, "friend." 

Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14.) 

One of the last commands of Jesus is this: “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40.) 

Let's be busy about getting ready. 

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