Everybody Has a Boss

Sunday August 23,2020 The Twenty first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: Key Points

Psalm 138:1-8, Isaiah 22:19-23, Romans 11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus opens today’s gospel reading in Matthew 16:13-20 with a question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“Blessed are you Simon, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church.”

And so, with his inspired confession of faith, our Lord makes this rock, the capstone of His new living temple, the church. The papacy begins here. Just as there are ranks in the spiritual realm of the angels, Jesus is laying the groundwork for His organization here on earth. In time, there will be additional administrations of Bishops, Elders, and Deacons. But for now, as first among equals, Peter gets the keys to the front door. He has, as the expression goes, the ability to open and shut. Keys are symbolic tools of a ruler. With these keys Peter has authority over all doctrine, all affairs of the church, and assumes command over its mandate to batter down the gates of Hell itself. Pretty heady stuff for a fisherman from Galilee! But this power is not his own. His commission must reflect the will of God. So, even though he holds the awesome majesty of the kingdom keys in this world, Peter is himself a key of heaven.

As a tool in God’s hands, Peter falls far short at being a key. Only a little while after these events, he starts contradicting Jesus concerning His crucifixion and the Lord must put him in his place with the verbal smack down of “Get thee behind Me, Satan!” But Peter is God’s man. He loves Jesus and will obey His commands. He has the faithfulness to persevere in trials. Most of all, Peter is willing to let sufferings cut his rough edges so he will fit the lock that the Lord has prepared for him as His key. God will always use a man like this. Not so with, Shebna the arrogant prime minister, ruling only second to the king of Israel in today’s Isaiah 22:19-23 reading. He was a self-absorbed man and showed himself to be a crooked key that would not turn in the lock of authority that the Lord had placed him. So, in judgement, God unbolted Shebna from his position and threw him away. He replaced him with Eliakim, a new key to fit a new lock of service. Let this be a lesson for us in our conduct as keys. God is patient with the acknowledged shortcomings of His true servants, but He despises the self-important vanities of the proud pretenders.

The secret to being a successful key holder and making it as a key yourself is in serving others. After James and John use their mother in a shameful power grab for the left and right seats in Jesus’ heavenly court, our Lord lays this rule out in Matthew 20:25-27:

    25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

This kind of thinking is revolutionary! Our reading in Romans 11:33-36 encourages us acknowledge the depth of God’s wisdom and follow it. We need to break the world’s self-serving pattern and come in line with heaven’s perspective. Our Father has set up these principles of authority for our benefit and His glory. Whether we are giving orders or taking them, we are all ultimately responsible to the Lord for our behavior.  Everybody has a boss. It is God Almighty, the One who holds all the keys!

Every line in our reading in Psalm 138:1-8 drips with the name of God. In these passages, The Lord is celebrated for His goodness as both sovereign and servant…as keyholder and key. His ultimate expression as key comes through the passion of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Son of Man came not into this world to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The Father highly exalted Him for His sacrifice so at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on the earth and below (Philippians 2:8-11). Revelation 3:7 tells us of His possession of the key of David and the power to open and shut…sound familiar?

God has given us talents, gifts, privileges, and opportunities. He expects a return on His investment. In our lives as both keyholders and keys, our stewardship will be an amalgamation of authority, accountability, service, and glory, which the Lord will sort out and judge at the end. Will we ignore His principles, serve ourselves, do our own thing? Or will we be good and faithful servants? It all boils down to the question Jesus asks in Matthew 16:15, “Who do you say that I am?”

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