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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Looby

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023

This week, I stayed at an Airbnb with some priest friends in Swampscott, Massachusetts. The owner of this home couldn’t emphasize enough: keep the house locked at all times!

There are reminders at every door going into the house with little notes: keep the door locked! Not a single key is required. They're all digital locks. You simply punch in a code on a keypad to gain entry into the house.

In a world where keys are becoming less physical and more digital, our readings today remind us of the timeless symbolism of keys in our faith. In the first reading, we hear about the key of the House of David being placed on Eliakim's shoulder. In the Gospel, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

But what do these keys represent? Are they merely tools to lock and unlock doors, or do they symbolize something deeper and more profound?

Keys have been symbols of authority, stewardship, and responsibility. Even though the keys at our Airbnb are not physical, the requirement to keep the doors locked reflects a trust, a responsibility to care for the place we temporarily call home.

Similarly, the keys entrusted to Peter by Christ are not about locking and unlocking physical doors but about a spiritual responsibility, a divine trust. Peter is given the authority to bind and loose, to guide and govern the Church.

The locks and keys of our Airbnb may be a simple and mundane part of our vacation, yet they remind us of the profound spiritual truths present in today's readings.

We, too, are entrusted with spiritual keys in our lives. We may not carry physical keys to the kingdom of heaven, but we have the keys of faith, love, forgiveness, and compassion.

We are called to use these keys wisely, to open doors to understanding, to unlock the barriers that divide us, to secure our relationships with one another, and with God.

The story of Peter as the Rock and the Keeper of the Keys calls us to reflect on our own roles as stewards of God's gifts and grace. In a world where physical keys may be replaced by digital codes and reminders, the spiritual keys of faith, hope, and charity are timeless and irreplaceable.

Just as the owner of our Airbnb entrusted us with the security and care of the house, God entrusts each one of us with a unique mission and responsibility. We are called to open doors to those seeking refuge and love, to lock away hatred and prejudice, and to embrace the boundless mercy and grace that God offers.

May we be ever mindful of the keys we hold in our hearts: the keys to compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and love.

May we use them wisely, recognizing that they open doors to the Kingdom of Heaven, not just for ourselves but for all we encounter on our journey of faith.

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