Wednesday, February 22, 2017
“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.” Matthew 16:18-19
This passage should give us great comfort. Why? Because in this passage Jesus lays the foundation of His Church. He gives to Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. And, in so doing, He establishes what has come to be known as the gift of “infallibility.”
Think about it. What does it mean to be given “the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven?” This is quite a statement. But by speaking it clearly and definitively, Jesus entrusted an incredible spiritual power to Peter. Peter may not have understood what this exactly meant at the time, but he would have been changed as he was entrusted with such authority.
By “infallibility” we mean that Peter was guaranteed to teach only that which was true in the areas of faith and morality. Faith and morality are what live on forever in the Kingdom of Heaven and so it is with authority in these areas that Peter is entrusted.
Furthermore, we know that the Apostles had successors. Peter went to Rome and became the Bishop of Rome. He was succeeded by Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, and so forth until the Bishop of Rome today. In 2013, Pope Francis became the 265th successor of St. Peter. This is important to note because this spiritual authority that Jesus gave to Peter did not end with his death. Rather, it continued with his successors and will continue on until the end of the world.
Today, in celebrating the great Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, we not only honor the Pope, we also rejoice in the spiritual authority that the Holy Father has been entrusted with. And knowing that Jesus is alive in such a way, through the certain teaching authority of the Keys of Heaven, we should be comforted and at peace knowing that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. Popes are sinners, but they are also visible and infallible instruments of Christ Himself every time they exercise their sacred role.
Reflect, today, upon your faith in the Church. We do not put our faith in persons, we put our faith in Christ, His Church and in the spiritual authority entrusted to the Church. Reflect upon your own faith in this regard and if it is lacking in any way, renew it in honor of this great Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
Lord Jesus, You entrusted Your power and authority to St. Peter and to all of his successors. I thank You for the gift of our Pope. I pray for him and offer him to You for Your guidance and protection. I renew my faith in the gift of the Holy Father and in Your promise to lead us always through him. May my faith in Your Church bring me consolation and hope as we all move forward to the goal of our salvation, the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus, I trust in You.