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Finding the key

By: Simeon Dumdum Jr. June 18,2016 - 09:38 PM


Over a month ago, the wife and I attended a workshop in a university town where we spent close to a week, put up in a hotel, which, although old and small, afforded us the basic comforts. I still remember our room number, the reason being that we failed to return the key to the concierge. I realized that only when we reached home, after a 45-minute flight. I felt a bulge in my back pocket. It was the key.

The same thing happened to the wife years ago when she attended a seminar in Kuala Lumpur — she came back with the key to her room. No great predicament, however, in her case or mine. Every hotel has a master key, and no doubt the ones we had brought home had been replaced.

Both keys now hang in a glass cabinet, together with other articles, souvenirs–key holders, coins, refrigerator magnets, dinner bells–reminders of places seen and occasions attended.

But it is the keys that carry with them a special memory, or loss thereof.

Speaking of keys, the heavenly ones come to mind–the keys of St. Peter.

Mark writes that at one time Jesus asked his disciples–“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”–they gave different answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets. And when Jesus asked them who they thought he was, Peter said, “The Christ of God.”

The other evangelists have a similar account of this incident. But Matthew adds that Jesus told Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The coat of arms of the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, contains two crossed keys–one gold, the other silver.

The gold key refers to heavenly power, and the silver to the spiritual power of the pope, the successor of St. Peter, on earth. A cord that unites the grips of the keys symbolizes their union.

Many artists have portrayed the giving of the keys to Peter in their paintings, among them, Pietro Perugino and Peter Paul Rubens. The latter pictures a Peter receiving the gold and silver keys from the Risen Christ (an obvious reference to an incident reported by Matthew that happened after Christ’s Resurrection, when, after receiving a positive answer each time from Peter to his thrice-asked question–“Do you love me?”–Jesus instructed Peter, “Feed my sheep.”).

Thinking of it, I feel that Jesus gave the keys to Peter because the latter had found the key to Jesus himself, which opened the door into his real identity–his being the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Every person embodies a mystery that not even the person himself can have full understanding of. Who better than myself fathoms the kind of person that I am? And yet somehow I continue to be mystified by certain aspects of my personality and, in a sense, I will remain a riddle to myself until my last day.

And yet another person, my mother or spouse perhaps, might have a good grasp of my character, and know the key to why I behave the way I do, and understand my inner dynamics, my identity, coming by that knowledge usually through friendship, familiarity and intuition.

In the case of Peter, that knowledge came as a gift from God. (“Blessed are you, Simon of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.”)

Even on a human level, such knowledge can surprise and have the character of being found. When the wife and I had dinner with our son and his family, his little daughter–one year and one month–became restless and started crying. I picked her up and carried her outside the coffee shop, trying to distract her with the lights that lined the hallway of the mall. I knew that I could not do this for long, because she showed signs of getting bored and her weight had weakened my arms. And so I put her down. When her feet touched the floor, she began to walk and wave her arms and would not allow anyone to pick her up ever. At that moment I found the key to her joy–strolling and the freedom it gave with every step. That night I put the key in my pocket, certain that I would not forget to use it once more when we would meet again.

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TAGS: hotel, key, Kuala Lumpur, room, Travel, workshop

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