21 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matt 16:13-20
August 23, 2020

I happen to be one of those people constantly wasting precious time looking for my car keys. You would think that I would learn to put them in the same place every time I come into the house, but for some crazy reason, that simple solution has escaped me…and it isn’t an age-related issue, either.

Ever since I have learned to drive, I come into the house and just toss the keys, and wherever they land is just fine…that is, until I need them again. Once, while visiting my aunt in Arizona, without thinking, I closed the trunk of the car…and you guessed it…locked the car keys INSIDE. We were stranded in the desert, alone, after dark, for hours, waiting for a locksmith to come from the city to free us. (Yes, there were lots of nasty animals out there!)

And then there are those annoying combination locks at the gym, which, even before Covid, I was able to come up with excuses to avoid. On at least three occasions, I have had to have the lock cut off because I couldn’t remember the combination, since I had gone months without exercising.

I don’t like keys!

Now, I’m going out on a limb here to suggest that “keys” are a consequence of original sin!

Think about it.

Had it not been for the first parents’ fall from grace (the original sin), there would be no need to secure our valuables, because no one would take what doesn’t belong to them. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve, in spite of living in the Garden of Eden, where their every need was provided for, gave in to the temptation to take what belonged to God.

As a consequence, they suffered the same punishment as Shebna…the greedy and corrupt public official mentioned in our Old Testament Reading. They were LOCKED OUT!

The Good News is that we are not. Through Jesus Christ, God has given us THE KEY TO HEAVEN…The Gospel. First entrusted to Peter, this priceless KEY has been copied countless times over the centuries, giving easy access to a better way of living in this world, and immediate access to The Kingdom for those wise enough to keep it close and not lose track of it.

The Gospel is a key way too important to carelessly toss away in a place where we can’t get to it, especially at those times when we need it most…those times when we feel stranded…alone…in a spiritual desert…surrounded by darkness and terrifying thoughts.

The Gospel should be such an important part of our day-to-day living that we never have to wrack our brains to think of what it is we need to hear…or reflect on …or pray. We shouldn’t have to struggle to recall a passage like we strain to think of the combination for a lock. The Good News should always be on our minds and on our lips and in our hearts.

In recent months, we’ve been locked out of restaurants, barber shops, movie theaters, and to a certain degree, even our places of worship. We have learned through the pandemic what it means to be denied access…locked out. And we haven’t yet found the key that will free us…a vaccine.

It’s not a good feeling.

But it helps us to imagine what it would be like to be locked out of the Kingdom of God for all of eternity. Thankfully, because of God’s mercy and love, that does not have to happen. All we need to do is keep the Gospel close at hand…never losing precious time searching for it.

And when the time comes, the gates will be open to us…without us having to search for the key…because when we live the Gospel, we become the key…the key to the Kingdom.