Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, Perugino, 1481, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City State.
[Jesus said] “Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father”. Matthew 10:32.
In a sense, at our baptism, we too were given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Our baptism claims us for God, makes us God’s children and hence we can expect to be heiresses and heirs to the kingdom. And so we each have a responsibility to behave as God’s children and inheritors of the kingdom which one day we hope to enter. Such an awareness and its logical demands might well come upon us slowly as we grow older. Indeed this thought has only revealed itself to me at age 75! The younger we are, I suppose, the less likely are we to notice the progress, or not, we make towards that day when, hopefully, we will enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet each minute brings us closer, if, of course, we remember the responsibility we have to act as God wants us to. Hence today’s stark message, printed above. But Jesus goes on to say, logically, that “…whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father”. And that surely would mean we have lost any right to enter that kingdom. And I’m sure each of us is familiar with the concept of “wriggle room” in our behavior, that mental space where we can contort thought and history to make something we are ashamed seem better than it really is. So today’s gospel is a bit of a wake-up call: “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known”. Jesus says this loud and clear, but I think he’s referring here in today’s gospel to something good, namely the things he has taught his followers in private, but which they are to proclaim to the world. However, the same dynamic can be applied to secret actions which are contrary to God’s wishes, that they are known to God, from whom nothing is hidden. Hence the choice which confronts us daily, which pathway do we take, towards the kingdom, or not?
Now in our particular day and age, where “social distancing” is a new norm, face masks a must, solitude an inevitability, there must be plenty of thoughts of all colors crowding upon us. How are we responding to this crisis? Do we brood on the bad or hope for the good? Do we look out for opportunities to help those in greater need, or fret all the time over our own distress? Remember Jesus from the very cross voiced concern for his mother and asked John to take her into his care. Today’s gospel teaches us to consider carefully the needs of God’s church today and the calamity this pandemic has brought upon it, upon us, where it has a much greater challenge to do the works of charity that God calls it – us – to do. And remember that strange, wonderful paradox, that in helping others, you help yourself. Trust God to put padding on the pathway towards helping others! So our covid-19 bunker existence could produce good in all of us if we but trust in the Lord and fulfill his wishes rather than our own. As Paul says in his letter to the Christians in Rome in today’s second reading, the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow[s] for the many….. and we are the many.
This Friday we celebrate the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the burning center of God’s love for us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. George Educational Trust.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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