Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for August 24, 2014, the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time. Thank you for joining us as we begin preparing our hearts and minds for Mass by diving deeper into the Word of God. The readings this week take us into the mystery of the Church and its governance through the chair of Peter but in also a continuation of the house of David from the Old Testament. Let’s go ahead and get started. We are using the New Jerusalem translation for copyright purposes.
Our first reading from the book of Isaiah is a text that Jesus uses as the basis for conferring authority on Peter. To understand this, we go back to the historical context in the Old Testament. This takes place about 300 years after the time King David. The northern kingdom of Israel has recently been taken into captivity by the Assyrians under King Sargon II and now the southern kingdom of Judah is under threat by Sargon’s son Sennacherib. The king of Judah at the time is King Hezekiah, one of the few relatively good kings from Old Testament times. Hezekiah has a Prime Minister, named Shebna, who has authority over the kingdom. God, however, is displeased with him, and through the prophet Isaiah, is told that he is being replaced by a new prime minister named Eliakim. “Thus says the Lord of Hosts to Shebna, the master of the palace: I dismiss you from your office, I remove you from your post, and the same day I call on my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah”. When Isaiah says, “I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open,” he provides the very words that Jesus will use in conferring the keys of the kings of the kingdom on to Peter. Theologian Scott Hahn explains that “when Jesus gives to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Peter is receiving the Prime Minister’s office, which means dynastic authority from the Son of David, Jesus, the King of Israel, but also an office where there will be dynastic succession,” thus creating what was to be the office of the Pope.
See this article for more information. http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp
The response for the responsorial Psalm is “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands”.
The Second Reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In this passage St. Paul reminds us of a common theme, that is that God’s ways are far beyond what we can comprehend. Often we are challenged and confused by the evil and suffering in the world and wonder how good can come of these situations. Our attitude must be one of faith and humility recognizing that we don’t have the capacity to see the full picture.
Our reading from the Gospel of Matthew is the primary text used to explain the primacy of chair of St. Peter over the Church. It begins with Jesus asking Peter a critical question, “Who do you say that I am?” His answer is profound, although Peter probably doesn’t understand all the implications of what he is saying. ” Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” By giving this answer Peter is confessing that Jesus is the Messiah for whom the people had been waiting. But Jesus makes it clear that the source of this insight was God himself. “‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.” Then we hear the amazing words, “So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.” These words, echoing what we hear in the first reading from Isaiah are the entrusting of Peter with the entire people of God, the Ecclesia, Jesus’ Church. Entrusted with the Church, Peter is also, as St. John Chrysostom says, “entrusted with the keys to heaven.”