Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time: Aug. 21 - 27, 2005
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Collaborative Ministry Office
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The Twenty-First Week of Ordinary TimeKeys are central to readings for the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time. The first reading from Isaiah offers the story of the faithful servant Eliakim, who will be given the keys for his master's palace. Paul's brief reading from the Letter to the Romans is a moving prayer filled with awe at the depth and unknowing ways of our Lord. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus asks his followers what people are saying about him. Then he asks the real question, "Who do you say I am?" Peter's direct answer, "You are the Christ" prompts Jesus' reply that Peter would be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven and would be the rock upon which his church would be built.Monday is the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary. The first readings this week are from Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians, the oldest book in the New Testament. Paul remembers with the Thessalonians his first visit there. The letters are affectionate and frank reminders of the humiliation and challenges that Paul met in preaching to this community he loved so much. These readings are a wonderful reminder that the letters of Paul were just that - letters to teach, encourage and support early communities of Christians.Matthew's Gospel begins this week with stories of Jesus strongly challenging the Pharisees. He saw how they made people's lives so difficult by their insistence on the rules and appearances while neglecting "matters of law, justice and mercy and good faith."Wednesday is the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, with special readings from The Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John.For the rest of the week's gospels, Jesus teaches about preparation for the Kingdom of God. "Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come." In the parable of the ten maidens who go out to meet the bridegroom, many of the women did not prepare for the meeting and do not have enough oil for their lamps and Jesus says again, "Stay awake." Saturday's gospel is the dramatic story of the three servants who are given resources by their master and rewarded or punished for what they did with the resources they had. Saturday is the Memorial of St. Monica.Our week ends as we look to the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. We see a glimpse of the Prophet Jeremiah who understands the pain of following the Lord and decides not to speak the Lord's name again, "but then it becomes like fire burning in my heart." Paul's letter to the Romans encourages those ancient Romans - and us - not to conform to this age but to discern the will of God. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus corrects his disciples' resistance to his own passion and death, telling them that if they try to save their lives, they'll lose them. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."