by Fr Kevin Waldie, SM
August 24: 21st Sunday of Year: Readings: 1.
Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138; 2. Romans 11:33-
36; Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20
There is in today’s readings a presence that gradually makes itself known. As we listen to all three biblical selections we grow in an awareness of the God whose identity and authority hold the key to our lives and the hope-filled end that is their goal.
Grounded in a real sense of Israel’s special status as a chosen nation, Isaiah the prophet dwells on that authority people actually see in play when the earthly ruler wields power over his subjects. For this royal figure’s appointment is only official by God’s decree. The divinely commissioned king wears the official regalia, sits upon the throne and bids that this or that be done because God is the true power behind the office.
This chain of authority is also key to what Paul tells the Romans in this second reading. By means of a series of questions he subtly points out that God is completely in control of the world. The Almighty One is thus identified as a mysterious being, yet his will is made known to us.
And so Paul closes out today’s text with universal praise of this God. He does so using a familiar form called a doxology; that is, an utterance spoken to honour the One who rules over all things.
When we listen to Matthew’s verses we learn that Jesus’ identity is tied to divine authority. And in Peter’s response to Jesus’ questioning, the chain of authority is once more in view. Handing over the keys of the kingdom therefore symbolises the transfer of divine power to the appointed agent who, after the Resurrection, will oversee all earthly things.
With readings like these, our thoughts are centred upon the way in which God the Father and Jesus direct and guide the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.