I have quite a few keys. In fact, I have so many keys that, I have two separate key rings. Keys are used to safeguard access to places that are important to secure, like your house, car, or safe deposit box. Keys are also given people who are trusted and have authority. I have a few of those keys for my job with the Archdiocese. Sometimes those keys come with the responsibility of making the right decisions. I pray for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide me in making the right decisions
In the Gospel today, Jesus gives Peter the key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Why did the Lord give Peter this key? Because Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God, revealed to him by the Father. Before this, Peter is known as Simon, but Jesus changed his name to Peter, which means rock to signify Peter’s role in leading the Church. The Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth and Jesus entrusted Peter with the authority to lead his Church. Peter was called by God for this special role. He did not ask for or volunteer for this role. Jesus told Peter, that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against the Church. Today, 2000 years later, throughout all the trials and tribulations, the Church still stands to bring salvation to those who profess that Jesus is Christ and the Son of God.
It is all of us who are called to proclaim the kingdom heaven to the world. In order for Kingdom thrive it needs a leader; otherwise those who oppose the kingdom will lead it astray. Of course, Jesus Christ is our King, but he has also appointed Peter as his leader here on earth carry out his mission of salvation.
When Jesus gave the keys to Peter, he gave him authority telling him, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”Jesus trusted Peter, even though he knew of his human flaws. If you read a few lines after today’s Gospel, Jesus chastises Peter because he doesn’t yet understand why Jesus must die on the Cross. Peter also denies Jesus three times at his crucifixion as predicted by Jesus. Jesus did not expect Peter to be perfect in his leadership, but to be faithful. After the resurrection, Jesus forgives Peter asking him three times if he loves Jesus. Peter confirms his love with Jesus telling him, “to Feed my lambs” and “Tend my sheep.” Affirming his leadership role for the Church
Peter’s successors, the Pope and bishops, carry out their responsibility in leading the global Church on earth. Within each diocese the bishops carry out a similar role in continually revealing who Christ is, the Son of God, through their teaching and administering the Sacraments. Pope Francis and Archbishop Thompson are the two leaders we look to in leading the Church for us today. They are called by God to fulfill this role. Will they make some mistakes? Like Peter, they are human, and they will make mistakes. But also, like Peter, they are faithful in proclaiming Jesus as our Savior. We can help and support them through our prayers.
The key of authority given to our bishops make the Sacraments possible. These Sacraments sustain us and to help build up the kingdom of heaven. Our bishops are the only ones who can administer the sacrament of Holy Orders, ordaining bishops, priests, and deacons, and in doing so make possible all the other Sacraments, most importantly the Eucharist. They also lead and teach us faith and morals of Christian living so we can bring others to faith in Christ. They have a tough job to do in today’s world as many disagree with them, even many Catholics. We need to keep in mind Jesus called and entrusted Peter to lead His Church and this includes his successors, the Pope and our Bishops. Please pray for Pope Francis, Archbishop Thompson, and all our bishops with the keys they’ve been entrusted with to lead the Church in revealing Christ as the Son of God and savior to the world.
In closing, I’d like to share a prayer that I pray daily for Pope Francis:
Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Francis, a spirit of courage and right judgement, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he, as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.