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The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

Aug.27, 2023.

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Is 22:19-23; Rom 11:33-36; Matt. 16:13-20).

At an opportune time, Jesus tests his disciples with a crucial question: “Who do men say that I am and who do you say that I am?” He was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God.

Life Message: Jesus plays on Peter's name which is the same word for "rock" in both Aramaic and Greek. To call someone a "rock" is one of the greatest of compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I have discovered a rock to build the world upon". Through Abraham God established a nation for himself.

The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. Jesus then confers on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers would overcome because it is founded on the rock which is Christ himself. Consequently, we might call this Sunday “Power Sunday,” because the main theme is the handing over of the “Keys” which open and shut, representing authority in the Church and in the Kingdom. However, Jesus was quick to explain to the disciples that he was not a political Messiah. He was, rather, a Messiah who must suffer, die, and be raised to life again.

Conclusion: In today’s Gospel, therefore, Jesus challenges us to know him personally and to serve him and love him as Lord, and he wants from each one of us our total, whole-hearted response. Moreover, the Lord Jesus offers us the gift of unshakeable faith, enduring hope, and unquenchable love - and the joyful boldness to proclaim him as the one true Savior who brings us the kingdom of God both now and forever. Who do you say he is to yourself, and to your neighbor?


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