What would you do with the keys to the kingdom?
In our reading from Isaiah this Sunday, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, is master of the palace; as such, he has access to the storerooms, from which he administers grain, and also to the king’s treasury. But when God places the key of David upon his shoulder, Eliakim’s most significant role becomes his control over access to the king himself, and through him, to God; his duty is to facilitate access to those in need. It is a huge responsibility…
We hear echoes of this notion of access in our gospel reading from Matthew as well, when Jesus – the Key of David incarnate – gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, telling him, Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven… Why entrust these keys to Peter? They are a gift, as is the revelation to Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of his very openness, Peter can be seen as a stable basis upon which to build a church, a foundation capable of giving people access to God. Peter understands that God is at work in his life, and proclaims the Good News; he is thus an open conduit through whom others may find access to God. It is not up to Peter to understand the gift – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments, Paul tells the Romans. It’s not up to Peter to seek power in some hierarchy, either; it’s about his willingness to grow toward the depth of meaning Paul is suggesting, toward the unfathomable depth of God’s love for him, expressed in God’s kindness and truth (Psalm 138). From that place of eternal love, Peter can be rock, strength, foundation… like Eliakim, a peg in a sure spot, the consummate source of stability through whom access to God is open and reliable.
We, too, have been entrusted with the key -- we, the Church, must provide access to God, and to salvation, to all who seek it. And so perhaps we must each ask ourselves, what are we doing with the keys to the kingdom? Are we a solid foundation, grounded in the eternal and boundless depths of God’s love, providing access to that love for all?
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.