Isaiah 22: 19-23 – Romans 11: 33-36 – Matthew 16: 13-20
Like a burst of sudden inspiration, in the midst of lamenting the rejection of Jesus by his own Jewish people, Paul realized this gave him the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul thus exclaims:
How deep are the riches, the wisdom, the knowledge of God!
How beyond our comprehension is God’s love!
How beyond our limited human vision is God’s care for us!
How beyond understanding are the majesty and mystery of God’s creation!
Despite whatever we might be experiencing now, all of creation calls us to grow in our love and appreciation of God.
How might these powerful thoughts of Saint Paul, however, fit in with the other passages from Scripture that we have heard today? How do the act of faith and the conferral of authority to Peter, as well as the parallel account from the Old Testament about the passing of authority from one individual to another, relate to Paul’s exclamation?
I would suggest that they call on us to consider that the riches, wisdom of God can be found in what we are as Church, as a body of believers. In many respects the very experience of these last few months has made this clear to me. The was true in the absence of the public celebration of Mass as well as in when were able to resume this public celebration of the Eucharist. It is evident to me in the attendance of those of you who have been present as well as in missing those who are still reluctant to join us for any number of reason. It has led me to a greater appreciation of the intimacy of a relationship God seeks with us as a people who share God’s presence in Word, in Sacrament and in one another.
In the dialog between Jesus and his apostles, Jesus seeks to know if they recognize who he is. Peter, as we heard, speaks up and declares clearly the faith that is theirs. Jesus responds with his own declaration that we understand as establishing the body, the physical reality, of the Church. He empowers this body of believers to act on his behalf in forgiveness and reconciliation, and so carry on his ministry to the world.
In the account we also heard from Isaiah, the prophet, we are reminded of the importance of keys, the symbol used by Christ in replying to Peter. Keys empower Peter and enable those joined with Peter and the Apostles as Church to provide access to our loving God and access to all that the relationship with God involves. In the Word that we share God speaks to us. In the Sacraments we celebrate, God’s presence is experienced in a very real and substantial way in the various aspects of our lives. In assembling with one another, we are one with Christ who promised to be present where tow or three are gathered in his name.
This is what we are as this people, as this Body that is the Church. Having been, and still being reminded of this gift to us and its value for us, we, too, can exclaim: how deep are the riches, the wisdom and the knowledge of our good and gracious God!