August 27, 2017 — Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
In last week’s Gospel, we heard the story of the Canaanite woman (a Gentile) who appealed to Jesus for help, and her prayer and plea were answered. Part of the message of that is that the Kingdom of God is open to and offered to all peoples.
This week we hear Jesus say to St. Peter in the Gospel from Matthew, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” An important part of the Vatican flag is two keys. Those keys, of course, represent the keys to the kingdom to which Jesus makes reference. Were you aware that one key is gold and the other silver. Interpretation is that the gold key represents spiritual power and the silver key represents worldly power.
We are also fond of images and more showing Saint Peter at the gates of Heaven deciding who is admitted and who is not. Nevertheless, the keys are reinforced in the Acts of the Apostles, and it is perhaps not that Peter opens the gates of Heaven, but Peter (and Paul as well) through his ministry and explanations make it clear that heaven (the kingdom) is available to all, Jews and Gentiles.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1023) states, “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they ‘see him as he is,’ face to face.” Pope Francis has spoken on this more than once. Recently, he stated, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us with the Blood of Christ. However, we must meet one another doing good.” Our call is clear.