Friday, August 25, 2017

The Power of Keys

Dear Friends,

From their primitive invention 6000 years ago in Babylon, keys have been important. The power of keys made its way into Scripture as we hear in the readings for this date, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, A cycle.

Isaiah tells us in the first reading that Shebna held an important post in the king’s palace. He was the chief of staff, the majordomo who controlled access to the king. Think Reince Priebus or John Kelly. The symbol of Shebna’s office was the key he wore on a sash across his shoulder. But Shebna was corrupt, ousted and the key of office was given to Eliakim, who carried out his work responsibly.

In the Gospel of Matthew (16.13), Jesus gives Peter the keys of God’s Kingdom. With them, he can bind or loose, close or open.

The symbol of keys is important in our own lives. We open and close doors for ourselves and others. We encourage loved ones to stretch their wings or we tell them they’ll fall flat if they try. We hold others to heavy, impossible responsibilities or reimbursement, or we are moderate, forgiving, patient. We live on the surface or life and prevent ourselves from growing in depth or we take appropriate risks and dive deep. We have keys to our dwellings, our cars, our mailboxes. Passwords are modern day keys.

Through the priesthood of all believers, and like Peter, you and I have keys to the kingdom. Our own authority is not to be taken lightly.

Beyond our own individual lives, the symbol of keys is also very important. We speak of the key to unlocking a problem or a mystery. Keys to the city are given to important visitors. Emotionally we speak of another person as having the key to someone’s heart. Jailers have keys or know the key-code that locks people away. Keys are also the symbols of adventure. Having car keys for the first time or the giving up of one’s car keys are significant moments in a person’s life.

I once knew a man named Claudius Milburn, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church where I used to work. Gentle, challenged Claudius had lived for 30 years at the Newark State School. When the state began placing people like Claudius into more normal situations, Claudius came to Rochester. Claudius was a remarkably ardent believer who helped out before and after Mass. One day, something prompted Claudius to say “The day I was released, I said ‘I’m free! I’m free! No one will ever lock me up again.’”

Jesus believed in Peter enough to entrust him with the keys to the kingdom. And what of us? Do we have faith enough to stay with the Lord, though sometimes, like Peter we falter? Do we believe that God believes in us…that God will not take from us the keys of binding and loosing, opening and closing?

As we believe, so shall we live.


~Sister Joan Sobala

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