Life on the Chrism Trail

Homily for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 23, 2020
Saint Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Isaiah 22:19-23
Psalm 138:1-3, 6, 8
Romans 11:33-36
Matthew 16:13-20

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth possesses in its collection a painting by Nicolas Poussin. The painting depicts the very scene described in our Gospel reading from this Sunday; Christ entrusts the keys of the Kingdom to Peter. The painting is entitled The Sacrament of Ordination; it is one of a series of seven Poussin paintings depicting the sacraments. The artist presents this scene involving Christ entrusting the keys to Peter taken from today’s Gospel as representing Peter’s ordination by Christ. Honestly, upon initially viewing this beautiful work of art, I must state that I was puzzled over the choice of this passage of Scripture to present the Sacrament of Holy Orders. I would have selected scenes from Scripture like the Call of the Apostles, or perhaps the Last Supper, or the Washing of Feet to represent Holy Orders — not the entrusting of the keys to Peter.

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