Year A: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 22: 19-23
No-one is quite sure what Shebna had done to deserve being stripped of the office of master of the palace.
The passage just before this speaks of “rock-hewn tombs” and “splendid chariots” and it may be that Shebna was more concerned with looking after his own interests than with the governing of God’s people. It was also a time of political intrigue - and it may be that he was working against the people’s interests as far as the Assyrians were concerned.
We do not know.
The purpose of the reading today, though, is to offer an Old Testament insight into the Gospel.
In the Gospel, Jesus invests Peter as leader of the people of God - in the First Reading, God invests Eliakim as “father” to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He gives him authority to “open” and to close - and authority which, being God-given, none should challenge.
In the same way, Peter is given authority to bind and to loosen - in an authority entrusted to him because of his willingness to be guided by the insights God gives to him.
Two men - hundreds of years apart - both receiving a divine commission. The authority is not given so that they can lord it over people - but so that they can guide and direct the people entrusted to them.
This form of authority continues in the Church today - a man - the Pope is commissioned to continue the work of guiding and leading God’s people - not for his own glory - but for the building up of God’s people and the Kingdom.
What does it mean for me?
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