21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Even today there are lots of opinions on who Jesus is or who he was, but today’s readings remind us that the most important opinion is our own: who do I say that Christ is?

Today’s First Reading shows the contrast between the faithful steward entrusted with the keys to everything and the steward stripped of them due to his infidelity. The palace to which Isaiah refers today is the royal palace, an important responsibility. The master of the palace, a steward, represented the king’s interests in many ways and in the king’s name. When Isaiah refers to the house of Judah and the House of David he is referring to much more than a building: he is referring to the royal family and the kingdom. A good steward to the king serves him, his family, his servants, and his people. This level of responsibility brings an incredible pressure from all sides trying to curry the steward’s favor or bring about his downfall. It requires a solid acknowledgement on his part of who is truly in charge: the king. We don’t know what Shebna did to get fired, but Isaiah sees in Eliakim a man who will stand firm in his service to all. This reading is a Scriptural foundation for the Church’s faith on what it meant to have Christ, Our King, entrust the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, his keys, to Peter and his successors.

In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds us that an even greater treasure and responsibility has been entrusted to Peter and his successors. God came in Person in his son to reveal the treasures of Our Father: “the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” The Church has faithfully watched over this treasure through the centuries, but not just collectively. Our Lord entrusted Peter and his successors with what we call today the deposito fidei: the deposit of faith. Our treasure is the truth about God, about who Our Lord is and what he said and did, about the path to holiness and happiness. The greatest treasure the Church watches over and communicates is the truth about who Jesus is.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord starts quizzing his disciples about the rumor mill regarding him, but then hits them with a pop quiz. Who did people think Our Lord was? Simply a prophet, and, for most, not even a new prophet: one back from the dead. Little did the disciples realize as they rattled off the theories that they’d have to answer for themselves too. Peter taught us how we should respond to the question: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s profession of faith in today’s Gospel was bolstered by grace, not just his own sleuthing. The Father revealed something about his Son in Peter’s response, and Peter’s faith should be our faith. Peter’s faith in Christ was rewarded by Christ’s trust in him. Just as Eliakim was entrusted with the keys to all the House of David’s possessions, Peter was entrusted with the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Our Lord promised him that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against the Church that the Lord would found upon him as the Rock.

Who is Christ to you? If your response lacks any element of Peter’s response it is time to reexamine and deepen your faith.

Readings: Isaiah 22:19–23; Psalm 138:1–3, 6, 8; Romans 11:33–36; 16:13–20.