The Key Is Love

08-23-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Nowadays many times our smartphone can open a door. We can use them via apps to open garage, house, or work doors. We no longer need a traditional metal key. In fact, hotels now give arriving guests an electronic card or send them a special code to their phone to a hotel app so that they may use the elevator or open their room. Some homes now use special lock systems that open via Wi-Fi with an app or a special numeric code. Most of us, however, still use traditional keys to open our houses, even if we use a “fob” to open and start our cars. Although metal keys are slowly being replaced, the name and concept of “key” are still very much in common use. I notice sometimes I need “an electronic key” to get into a file or a network system. Keys, whatever type they may be, are meant to provide security and safety. They are to protect and also at the right time to open up. They also strongly represent power. Who controls the key, to whom is it given, who has a Master Key, and who is “allowed to come in”: all these questions and more tell us about the power of keys and who possesses them. The keys of various categories and concepts are very important in our lives.

Our scriptures in the first reading and also the Gospel speak of the role of one who holds the keys, the “keyholder”. Isaiah had to deliver the bad news that Shebna, the keeper of the pal-ace keys, was not a trustworthy holder of the keys. Shebna was told by Isaiah that he would be thrust down and a new keeper would replace him. Shebna had sided with the king and his royal decision to form military alliances with other nations. This was directly contrary to the will of the Lord. This decision and policy would dilute the religion of Israel with the polytheism of the pagans and render asunder the Covenant established on Mount Sinai that had been renewed with David. In the passage, it is clear that the symbols of the Shebna’s office—the robe and sash and key—would be placed on another’s shoulders.

In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus walking along quietly and reflectively with his disciples. Jesus suddenly turns to them and asks what do others say of him. The disciples tell him that he is seen as a continuation of the Jewish Tradition and Scriptures. Some think he may even be a prophet. Jesus then asks what they think. Peter then speaks for himself and for the rest. Peter appears to be the leader and acts as Jesus’ main helper. In the Calming of the Sea story, Peter had already said: “Truly you are the Son of God”. This time Peter’s announcement is even greater for he says: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Although the other Gospel writers tell of this scene, they do not include the commissioning of Peter. Here we learn his name is changed from Simon to Peter, which means “rock,” and he is given the keys, which means he has the authority “to bind and loosen.” Jesus tells everyone Peter is chosen because he is faithful to the revelation of God, not because he is smart, pious, or tough. We know Peter, instead, often stumbled and made mistakes.

Jesus saw the essence and heart of Peter. We heard two weeks ago about how Peter started to sink while walking on the water towards Jesus. Peter lost his focus on Jesus. We also learn in this new scene that Peter and his followers would face some very hard times. Bear in mind Peter was chosen because of his faith, although it was imperfect for there is no perfect faith. We need to remember that we have been chosen. Like Peter, we may stumble, but we can pick ourselves up and see Jesus and then lead others to Him by our words and example.