Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on Matthew 16: 13-20
It’s a good thing Jesus didn’t give me the keys to the kingdom. Lord knows where they would show up. In fact, if you happen to come across a little keychain with a red heart that is engraved The Story and You could you shoot me an e-mail? I’ve looked everywhere.
Although he wasn’t speaking literally when he handed the keys to Peter, Jesus was using the language of the household, the family. Here’s the keys to the house, he said to Peter. Keep it safe from thieves and marauders. Keep it open for all who seek me. Keep it clean, and let plenty of fresh air and sunshine circulate. And keep the lights on, please. Don’t ever let my Church be a place of darkness.
We live in a time when the lights are, literally, going out in churches all over the world. In places of persecution, like Iraq and Syria, Christians have fled in historic numbers. In 1999, I was with a group of pilgrims who visited a Christian family in Bethlehem whose stone mason business had been operating since―imagine this―the time of Jesus. They had lived in the same neighborhood since the time of Christ. Five years later we returned to visit them. They were gone.
On the other hand, in the prosperous communities of the west, the gospel seems to be losing its power to draw people into church buildings. But here’s the thing: the buildings are not the church. The Church is the building—the living stones. And we need to be with each other―to sing, and pray, and hear the scriptures, and be restored by the Eucharist―in order to build the kingdom whose keys will never be lost.
In what ways are you helping to “keep the lights on” in your parish?
Kathy McGovern ©2017
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