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Home » The Sunday Lectionary

(Sunday XXI OT — A) The Keys of the Kingdom

Submitted by on Friday, 19 August 2011No Comment

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Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Isaiah 22:19-23
  • Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 138
  • Reading II:  Romans 11:33-36
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-20

The Demotion of Shebna and Promotion of Eliakim.The choice of the Old Testament reading was dictated by Jesus’ statement in the gospel selection regarding the "keys of the kingdom" that he gives to Peter, the Rock. The OT background for this emblem is that of the keys of the mayordomo of the king’s palace. Thus the selection from Isaiah 22 which tells of the election of a new mayordomo to replace the corrupt Shebna who has enriched himself with the position. The key that the mayordomo holds symbolizes a position of authority, the highest next to the king. One need only to read the account of the Assyrian envoy sent to Jerusalem to confront King Hezekiah with the allegation of treason. In this tense diplomatic situation, the King of Judah sends three men to meet the envoy: Eliakim, the new mayordomo, Shebna and a scribe. Eliakim "who is over the household" is always listed first in the account of this affair (see. Isaiah 36:3.11.22;37:2).

UponthisRock-med When Jesus tells Peter that he will have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the Rock will be "spiritually" what Eliakim had been "politically."

The responsorial psalm is a prayer to God for continued assistance. Understood in the light of Isaiah 22 where power became the occassion for Shebna’s demotion, Psalm 138 is prayer that one given such a great authority may not become proud himself.

Paul’s Awe Before God’s Wisdom. The reading from Romans 11:33-36 is an exclamation of wonder and praise for the depths of God’s wisdom which is even now manifested in Christ. Paul of course is thinking of the mercy of God as he sees it first offered to the Jews, and rejected by these; offered to the Gentiles, and accepted by them (11:30-31). That "divine mercy" was offered after all has been placed under disobedience so that all can receive God’s mercy (11:32).

But taken of itself apart from the context, the outburst of Paul can also be understood in the light of the gospel selection. Peter, the one who denied Christ three times has become the head of the apostles. Why? Matthew was already hearing the question during his time and so as a response, he rewrote the Marcan account of Peter’s Confession in the light of the apostolic memory he holds. Peter was named "the Rock" upon whom the Church’s faith will find support because of the recognition he accorded to Christ whom he proclaimed "the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." In this sense, one can also marvel at the way certain people are chosen to fulfill certain roles in the household of God.

Isaiah 22:19-23
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
19And I will drive thee out From thy station, and depose thee from thy ministry.
20And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias,
21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda.
22And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.
23And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father.
Romans 11:33-36
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
33O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways!
34For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
35Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him?
36For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.
Matthew 16:13-20
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
13And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is?
14But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
16Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.
17And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
18And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
20Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.
Isaiah 36:3
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
3And there went out to him Eliacim the son of Helcias, who was over the house, and Sobna the scribe, and Joahe the son of Asaph the recorder.
Romans 11:33-36
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
33O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways!
34For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
35Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him?
36For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.

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