If you’ve ever had to decorate a home before I’m sure you know the need for balance and symmetry in how things look. How you want to have the wall paintings hung that certain way over the couch so they look just right, or how the dresser needs to be centered just so, so that you have the right amount of space on either side of it. In short, we tend to like things to have that kind of balanced aesthetic feel to them.
Many times in the Scriptures and in the readings at Mass we are treated to a similar kind of symmetry between the Old and New Testaments, where we see something introduced in the Old Testament come to fruition in the New Testament. This is certainly the case with this week’s readings reflecting the institution of one of the treasures of our Catholic Faith – the papacy.
The reading from Isaiah speaks of the ‘master of the household,’ the person who looks after the running of the kingdom while the king is away, and this person is given authority in the name of God and the king, the keys to bind and loose and exercise judgement, and ultimately given the name of Father, a name which will change over time from Father to Papa to Pope.
In the Gospel, following Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus uses this same language we saw in the Old Testament to confer this same authority on Peter. Peter is being made the ‘master of the household,’ the person who will look after the running of the kingdom (now the Church) while the King (Jesus) is away. He is given the keys and the authority to bind and loose and exercise judgement, and like the popes today, he takes up a new name (Peter) to signify this shift in his life and service to God.
In reading the Bible we find that the practices of our Catholic faith are deeply rooted in the events of Scripture. We can see the symmetry between the Old and New Testaments and arc which events follow from one to the other–and therefore understand why we need both testaments! And then from this we are called to see how our lives, even in Nova Scotia in the year 2017, connect to the whole of salvation history stretching back to our ancient roots as a people of faith.
The papacy is one of the gifts Christ gives to His Church, as are both of the Testaments of Holy Scripture. God works hard to bring the events of the Old Testament to completion in the New. In prayer this week, might I suggest inviting to illuminate the gifts He gives us daily and the ways He brings parts of our lives to a deeper fulfillment each day. Maybe you have a gift or talent or resource that has been present in your life for years, but only now you are finding out how that gift can come to the service of others, or maybe you are questioning what purpose you might have. Offer these things in prayer! Our lives, like the Scriptures, have those moments of God using the seeds He may have planted within us long ago. Let us take time to discern for ourselves how God might be calling us to work with him to fulfill the purpose of those gifts!
Peace and All Good,