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Bible Study for 8/23/20 • 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Howard Hampson | August 22, 2020 No Comments

8/23/20 • 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 22:19–23
Psalm: Psalm 138:1–2, 2–3, 6, 8 (8bc)
Second Reading: Romans 11:33–36
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 16:18
Gospel: Matthew 16:13–20


For this Sunday’s Old Testament and the Psalm readings, I thought I would provide a sample of the commentary from The Didache Bible with commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Bible Edition, published by the Midwest Theological Forum, Inc, and Ignatius Press. I have also provided the cited paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For the New Testament and the Gospel reading, the commentary is from The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, The New Testament, published by the Ignatius Press.

Both Bible editions use the Revised Standard Version – Second Catholic Edition for their Bible text. I find them to be excellent for use in my Bible studies and for Lectio Divina. I heartily recommend them for your consideration if you are looking for some good, solid Catholic study Bibles.

First Reading

Shebna was an ambitious official in the court of King Hezekiah who was replaced by Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. It was Eliakim who attempted to negotiate peace with the Assyrians during the siege of Jerusalem. He functioned as the chief steward to the king by managing both his household and the affairs of the court. This image of the key appears in the Gospel as Christ gave Peter the power of the keys with a similar authority over his Church (cf. Matthew 16:19). (Catechism of the Catholic Church 553, 567, 981, 1444) (Didache Bible)

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

567 The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. “This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ” (Lumen Gentium 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter.

981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.

1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)


This psalm of praise eagerly anticipates the day when the whole earth will honor and offer praise to God. God’s infinite grandeur and transcendence is certainly no obstacle to his love for every person, especially the poor and weak; furthermore, it is the poor and humble who enjoy special closeness to God. This singular care for everyone, especially the downtrodden, serves as a model for all rulers and all people of good will. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, December 7, 2005)

I… give thanks to… your faithfulness: Steadfast love and faithfulness are two defining characteristics of God as are his trustworthiness, constancy, kindness, goodness, grace, and truth. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 214, 304)

214 God, “HE WHO IS,” revealed himself to Israel as the one “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth. “I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” He is the Truth, for “God is light and in him there is no darkness”; “God is love,” as the apostle John teaches. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a “primitive mode of speech,” but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. The prayer of the Psalms is the great school of this trust. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Second Reading

11:33–36 Paul’s concluding doxology extols the infinite wisdom of God. Overwhelmed and amazed, he gasps at the unsearchable and inscrutable plan of God to save the world in Christ. • Citations from Is 40:13 (in 11:34) and Job 41:11 (in 11:35) portray God’s designs as beyond our comprehension and his greatness as independent of any need or earthly gift. (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

Gospel Acclamation

You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. (New American Bible Revised Edition)


Here I have provided on the summary commentary on Gospel reading. The detailed commentary went on for pages.

16:13–20 The Gospels generally highlight Peter’s preeminence among the disciples (10:2; Lk 22:3132; Jn 1:42; 21:15–18). This episode defines his role explicitly. • Jesus’ blessing on Peter draws from OT traditions about the Davidic covenant. The key concepts and images (Christ / Son of the living God / rock / build / gates of Hades / keys / kingdom) are all connected with Israel’s kingdom established under David and confirmed by Solomon and his construction of the Temple (cf. 2 Sam 7:4–17; Ps 2:7; 89; 132). Although David’s empire crumbled in 586 B.C., Jesus announces its restoration in the New Covenant (cf. Mk 11:10; Lk 1:32–33; Acts 15:1518). Christ is the long-awaited “son of David,” who rebuilds and transforms the ancient kingdom in the Church. See introduction: Themes. • Vatican I (1870) cited this episode as biblical support for the primacy of Peter and successive popes. The Council’s interpretation touches five points of doctrine: (1) The Magisterium built upon Peter is instituted by Jesus Christ; (2) Peter is given a unique role as chief teacher and ruler (primacy of jurisdiction) over the Church; (3) Peter is the visible head of the Church; (4) Peter’s authority is passed on through successors; (5) through Peter, Christ himself assures the infallible preservation of the gospel in the Church. (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)


The readings are about our faithful and trustworthy God appointing faithful stewards of His household for both His people Israel and His Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son. God has ways of removing unworthy stewards and replacing them with faithful ones for the sake of His flock, the sheep of His pasture.

Your thoughts and comments are encouraged and appreciated.

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