Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
August 24, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Visiting dignitaries are often given an honorary "Key to the City" by the mayor.
On the practical level, to be given a key by an employer implies their trust that we will use that key responsibly. In today's first reading, God takes the Key of David away from Shebna, the master of the palace of King Hezekiah, and gives it to a worthier man, Eliakim. Shebna had really "messed-up"—he had torn down houses of the poor for material for the city walls, and he had arrogantly built himself a showy tomb for all to admire! So God took away his sign of power and authority, his Key.
Isn't it interesting that Jesus, in the Gospel, is also concerned about the Keys to the Kingdom—and gives them to Peter, the Rock? At the same time, He makes Peter the head of His "Church" (the only time this word is used in the New Testament), an assembly so strong that Hell itself will not be able to destroy it. With that key, Peter and his successors will have the power to lock and unlock the gates of heaven. Many bishops and priests through the centuries will use those keys, even though they are weak and fragile themselves. Many have failed in the responsible use of those keys. Christ foresaw all of this when He first entrusted the keys to Peter!
But the power and responsibility are shared in a real sense with all the baptized. To us also have been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. With those keys we may unlock the doors of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation; with those keys we can unlock the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, given us at Confirmation, and to us have been given the keys to the source and summit of grace, strength, and happiness, the Holy Eucharist. With those keys we can unlock the doors of hearts that others may be nourished with God's love and truth. What power lies behind those keys!
What if we abuse the privilege? What then?
Some time ago, a teenager I knew, failed to show up at his parents' home at the appointed time. He, not thinking of the worry he was causing, was still at his buddy's place. To his dismay, he saw his mother appear. Without a word, she took his car keys away from him. (I never did hear how he made it back home). How embarrassing for that young man, although he was merely thoughtless, and felt he was doing the right thing by spending time with his friend.
Even though we may be merely thoughtless in our neglect of the Sacraments and of so many opportunities to share the treasure of our faith with others, we are taking a huge risk of losing those keys. Isn't it possible that God could take those keys away from us, like He did to Shebna, and give them to others who would use them responsibly?
Life is so short!
Thank you, God, for entrusting to me the Keys to eternal life. Let me never, through carelessness or sin, risk their being taken from me! Help me to responsibly use the power, share the treasures, and respect the authority of those Keys always!
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
email: pwhitmore29 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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