21ST Sunday O.T. (A).
DO YOU LOVE THE POPE,
CHRIST’S VICAR ON EARTH?
Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the PETER’S PROFESSION OF FAITH IN JESUS’ DIVINITY and the PRIMACY OF PETER:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” SIMON PETER REPLIED, “YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. AND I TELL YOU, YOU ARE PETER, AND ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, AND THE POWERS OF DEATH U SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT. I WILL GIVE YOU THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, AND WHATEVER YOU BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN, AND WHATEVER YOU LOOSE ON EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN.” (Mt 16: 13-21)
These Gospel passages are of utmost importance because in them Our Lord Jesus Christ promised the primacy of Peter over the Church which Our Lord founded on Peter (rock=Cephas), and at the same time the powers he will have to exercise his supreme authority over His Church, symbolized by the giving of the keys, which during the ancient times, signifies giving authority over one’s city or property (see as well 1st reading, Is 22:19–23 where Our Lord tells Sheba that he “will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder” ).
It is a primacy which is to be CONFERRED and at the same time CONFIRMED onto him in the loving dialogue recounted by St. John when Our Lord asked Peter thrice if he loves Him. (Cf. Jn 21: 15-19)
- That Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him thrice is noteworthy. It is as if Jesus wanted to give Peter a triple opportunity to atone for his triple denial. But each time Our Lord asked Peter the same question: “Do you love me?” and Peter responds affirmatively, Jesus responded with a corresponding task entrusting Peter to feed, tend and feed his lambs and sheep. What did Our Lord mean by this?
- Not only does it signify that ALL LOVE HAS ITS RESPONSIBILITIES (fidelity, unity, sacrifice, self-giving, forgetting oneself, fecundity, understanding, mercy and forgiveness…);
- But also, it is the essential moment of fulfilling his promise in Mt 16, giving the primacy to Peter over His Church in a direct and immediate manner, a primacy which is passed onto his successors, the Popes till the present day.
It is worthwhile to review the points of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the primacy of Peter, which are the following:
881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.
882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”
Dear friends: Let us then THANK OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FOR LEAVING ALL THINGS IN PLACE BEFORE ASCENDING INTO HEAVEN, CONFERRING THE GRACE OF PRIMACY OF JURISDICTION AND AUTHORITY TO PETER AND HIS SUCCESSORS TO GUARD AND PROTECT THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH FOUNDED BY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN FAITH, LOVE AND COMMUNION. It is something which Our Lord Jesus Christ wanted and it is not based on human customs or caprice.
As such, Peter, and each his successors, is the SHEPHERD of the entire universal Church and the VICAR OF CHRIST, i.e., the when the Pope acts or exercises his authority, he is exercising Christ’s own authority.
At this point, let us examine ourselves: Do we have a theological and human love for the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth?
St. Josemaria encourages us: “Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this end: ut sint unum! – that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one spirit. This is so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam – that we may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary.” The Forge, 647
Let us also ask Our Lord to engrave in our heart a DEEP LOVE AND DEVOTION FOR “SWEET CHRIST ON EARTH”, as St. Catherine of Sienna used to call the Roman Pontiff and THAT THIS LOVE BE TRANSLATED INTO PRAYER AND MORTIFICATION, COUPLED WITH OBEDIENCE!
“Welcome the Pope’s words with a religious, humble, internal and effective acceptance. And pass them on.” The Forge, 133
A Blessed week ahead and God bless! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.