Have you ever considered that everyone (well, almost everyone!) has some sort of key chain? In this time of division in our world, I’d like to think of all our keys as a sort of common bond we all share. Whether that be at home, at work, as school, our keys allow us to function in the world, to complete our story. Maybe that’s why we feel so lost when we lose them. We’re all united on that point!
And if you really think about it, you’ll discover that as you grow older, as you grow wiser, when you work harder, as you get better at your job, maybe even a little luckier in life, your key ring fills up. But that’s not random chance. Maybe you worked hard to secure the loan, getting the down payment, maybe your parents trusting you with the key to the house, maybe your family’s safety deposit box, maybe your resume.
But here’ the bottom line: At some point along the way, despite your shortcomings, someone judged that you were ready for a key.
Do you remember how that felt? For me, every time I’ve received a key, even with the burden of responsibility, I felt both chosen and excited. Chosen to be a good steward, and excited about all the possibilities.
It’s the same for all of us. Being chosen like that gives us the strength to become a fine homeowner. A great wife or husband. A great driver. A hard-working student who earned that locker. In a way, that fuels our identity to places we could not have imagined.
Like in our 1st reading today from Isaiah. God is basically saying “Eli-a-kim, you thought you would remain a simple servant, but I have chosen you for greater things. I’m giving you the keys to this earthly kingdom. You will be the father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. You can do this.”
Same with Peter in our Gospel. Jesus is saying, “You thought you were simply going to follow me around as a faithful disciple, but I have chosen you for greater things. Here are the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”
Here’s my point: neither Eli-a-kim or Peter asked to be chosen. Scripture tells us there were times neither one acted like mature, responsible people, fit to be chosen. Just like us. Sinners in need of forgiveness.
But Jesus did chose Peter – impulsive, cowardly, unorganized, confused – as the “rock” our Church is built on. Metaphorically, Peter’s key chain just got a lot heavier.
Well, that’s all fine and well, you might ask. But what have I been given? Did Jesus leave me any keys?
Here’s the good news. He did. We have been given the keys to our salvation. Through the Sacraments. Through the Eucharist. Through Sacred Scripture. Through the Magisterium. And just as important, through everyone sitting around you. We can do nothing alone. We belong to a faith community – our source of grace and peace. Our keys. Nothing like the keys of St. Peter – or, his successor, Pope Francis – but an important set of keys nonetheless.
Through our faith, God is telling us we are ready. We are responsible enough to go forth and spread the good news. It’s why we come here – to celebrate the fact our Heavenly Father has chosen us, and to look ahead at what we can do together.
To feel confident and chosen to stand up to hatred, white supremacy, sexism. To work for immigration reform. To make our marriages work. To get through that job loss, that medical diagnosis, that first step to admit you need help with that addiction. To do something for our brothers and sisters in Houston and southeast Texas as they continue to suffer the effects of the devastating flood.
God believes in you. Rejoice and be glad – we’ve been given the keys we need to build the kingdom of God. That’s one thing we have in common this morning in this most fractured world – and it may well be the most important thing for us today.
Our opening Collect today sums it all up perfectly, I think. Perhaps we could sit with these words of our Liturgy in the days ahead, discerning our Catholic responsibilities, turning the keys that set us free.
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise,
and that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.