Have you ever lost your keys? Who hasn’t? How do you feel when you can’t find your keys? Awful Have to change door locks. Real pain. Important to have your keys.
Let me tell you a story about keys. A long time ago, just after I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis I joined the Paulist Fathers. The first year is in the novitiate, which at that time was located in Oak Ridge, NJ. At Christmas time I flew home to St. Louis, MO, and while there borrowed my sister’s car to go around visiting some college friends. I then returned to the novitiate in New Jersey, but discovered in the pocket of my winter coat my sister’s car keys. No problem. Because shortly after returning we had another dull lecture at the novitiate, but a couple of my friends in the novitiate, who had worked at our parish in New York City in the Fall, had to return to New York to finish up a few loose ends. So I cooked up an excuse to go with them, and we drove the 40 plus miles into New York. We parked the car at the parish in mid-Manhattan, they went to do their stuff, and I walked down to Rockefeller Center, went to the Post Office, bought a mailing bag, and mailed the keys back to my sister. Then I went off to enjoy the day in New York. Had a great time, a wonderful dinner. And that night I met my friends back at the car, reached in my pocket, and pulled out my sister’s car keys! I had mailed the wrong keys back to St. Louis. So I had the pleasure of calling up the Novice Master, Fr Vinny McKiernan, and telling him that I had driven the car over 40 miles into New York and then mailed the keys to St. Louis, and could he send out another car with a second set of keys? Obviously, the Paulists were so desperate that they kept me.
We have keys mentioned in the readings today: In the first reading: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut. When he shuts, no one shall open.”
And in the Gospel, Peter receives keys: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”
In our readings today both Eliakim and Peter are chosen, and with this are given keys. The keys represent ability, power, authority.
Why is Eliakim chosen, and Shebna, master of the palace, pulled down? I have no idea.
Why is Peter chosen, rather than Thomas or John or Andrew or one of the other Apostles? I have no idea.
God chose them, and God does not explain why. Often, we can legitimately wonder about some of the people God has chosen. Peter - impetuous, unfaithful, soon to deny Jesus - certainly seems like a strange choice on God’s part. Some of the choices of Bishops and Pastors, and even of Popes, you have to wonder about.
Our second reading today fits well here: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”
To us, some of these choices don’t make sense. But God chose Eliakim, and God chose Peter, and in choosing them gave them keys: ability and power to carry out that election, that choice.
We too have been chosen by God. Each of us at our Baptism was called by name. Why me? I have no idea. Like with Peter, so with myself I have to say: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” It is not because of my talents, my innate holiness, not even my good looks that God has chosen me to be His own child. And frankly, it is not because of your special holiness or your tremendous talents, or even your very winning charm and delightful personality that the Lord has chosen you to be God’s son or daughter, a member of the living Body of Christ.
But God did choose you: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”
And in choosing you God also bestows on you keys: the keys for your place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not literal keys, but the abilities to live out the life of holiness that you are called to. The power to truly live a Christ-like life in self-sacrificial love: in honesty, compassion, justice, reconciliation, fidelity, and love.
And that is quite a bit! That is a lot of keys! Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”
Be careful with those keys!