The readings for this weekend have a common theme: God’s authority shared with human beings. The authority we’re given is a gift, and one that stays with us only if we’re willing to use it properly.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority.
Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Last week we heard how, if the people God chose to be his people won’t live the way God asks us, that God will pick other people who are willing. This week, the theme is developed a little, with the issue of authority. In the first reading, Isaiah speaks for God telling Shebna that since he’s not pulling his weight, his job and his authority will be given to Eliakim. He squandered what he was given, and so it was taken away.
In the second reading, Paul quotes the Book of Job, reminding us that no one knows better than God. We can’t challenge his wisdom in the choices he makes, so even if he chooses a hothead like Peter to be in charge of the Church, or a doubter like Thomas to be a founder of Churches, or a murderer like Paul to be the greatest Apostle, or you or me to do something amazing; we have to trust that God knows what he’s doing. All of us are given some authority, and some big jobs to do throughout our lives. It’s up to us to live up to the trust God puts in us.
The Gospel has two parts to it–one establishing for the Apostles that Jesus had the perfect authority of God, and the other that Jesus gives that authority over to Peter and those who would come after him. Peter, who often misspeaks (and will in next week’s readings on an epic scale), has a moment where he says the right thing. Jesus makes it clear that we don’t always have to be right, we don’t always have to be on point (like Peter isn’t), but that we have to be open to what God will say to us (like Peter is). God can work with people who want to listen and do their best to live God’s plan for them.
Jesus asked his friends who they thought he was. They all had different answers. How would you tell people who Jesus is?
Jesus said that when he builds the Church up with the work of Peter and the Apostles, he says that, “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” The people who God put in charge, and who God continues to put in charge aren’t perfect–they sometimes make mistakes, bad choices, and misspeak. But, God promised that whatever mistakes were made, God would protect us from ourselves. The Church will outlive, by God’s grace, any harm it’s done by it’s members; but God will remove the ones who deliberately don’t live up to their responsibilities. What are some ways that you’ve seen God’s protection of the Church in difficult times? As members of the Body of Christ, which is also the Church, how do you see that protection extended to you? Our families are “little churches”; how do you see the protection extended to your family?
When Jesus says that whatever Peter would, “bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” he was talking about the Sacrament of Confession. How does the theme of God’s authority shared with us apply to the Sacrament of Confession? Why is it important for authority to have as it’s partner the ability to be forgiven?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”