Thus says the Lord of Hosts to Shebna, the master of the palace:
I dismiss you from your office,
I remove you from your post,
and the same day I call on my servant
Eliakim son of Hilkiah.
I invest him with your robe,
gird him with your sash,
entrust him with your authority;
and he shall be a father
to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
and to the House of Judah.
I place the key of the House of David
on his shoulder;
should he open, no one shall close,
should he close, no one shall open.
I drive him like a peg
into a firm place;
he will become a throne of glory
for his father’s house.
First reading on the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
The reading engages us with a narrative of reversal – one man gets sacked and advancement and prestige is extended to another. A new reality begin, and a new authority is given for the building up and safeguarding of God’s people on earth.
For the one who is dismissed there is shame, but perhaps too there is an opportunity for his eyes to be opened to the greater good being offered now to the people, and maybe the way is opened to a humble hope that what is for the common good will be for his good too.
As we were reminded last week by St Paul, God does not go back on his promises. As we remind God today, in our response to the psalm!
Stone inlay. Vatican Museum, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.