Jesus has the key to the kingdom. He is God’s Servant who comes to serve, to open and close. He gives to those who are his own the keys of service.
It looks like Peter knows quite well what people say about Jesus. But he does not go where they are, for he says that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And right away, he is called blessed and he receives the keys to the kingdom. Jesus also gives him, with a guarantee, the power to bind and loose.
Peter is blessed for what the Father makes known to him. So, then, the keys that he receives, along with the power to bind and loose, are not a prize. Rather, they make up the gift of call, out of God’s riches.
Jesus, though, does not call a man of wealth or a scholar of the law but a lowly fisherman. He seats him with princes (Ps 113, 8). Yet his title of Prince or Primate lies in being the last of all and the servant of all (Mk 9, 35).
And so, to have the keys, or authority, means to serve the Christian community. The same is true with the power to bind and loose, to forgive and retain sins. To say “yes” or “no” to teachings, to set up and follow steps to correct and prevent. Yes, Peter’s calling is to be the servant of the servants of God.
To hold the keys, to bind and loose, means confession of faith.
The one with whom Jesus shares such task can only do it if one stays true to the confession of faith. And it is not so much a matter of words as of deeds. That is to say, one must confess Jesus with one’s life.
To confess our faith with our lives means to empty ourselves of ourselves to put on Jesus Christ (SV.EN XI:311). It is to take off all self-righteousness and have Jesus’ outlook, lowliness and selflessness. For it turns out that there are, on the one hand, many who call themselves Christians and yet show the traits of the Pharisees, like rigidity. And, on the other hand, few are those who call themselves Christians and show at the same time traits that match those of Jesus.
And those who serve as holders of keys, and those who bind and loose, have Jesus as their driving force. That means, he is their “why,” for which to be, to have, to do.
Lord Jesus, you give the keys of the kingdom not to one man but to the whole Church as one (St. Augustine). Grant that we who make up the Church keep the gate of salvation open, especially for those whom the world deems throwable.
23 August 2020
21st Sunday in O.T. (A)
Is 22, 19-23; Rom 11, 33-36; Mt 16, 13-20