Matthew 16: 13-19
Acts 12: 1-10 / Psa 34 / 2Tim 4:6-8,17-18
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…
Who Jesus is in my life today
Reflects the things I do and say.
Lord, let me always display Your ways
That others too may give You praise.
When Jesus went into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matthew 16:13-19)
Jesus entrusted to St. Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” as the symbol of the Church’s authority and wisdom. All authority and wisdom come from God. They are the fruit of faith. God has given them for a divine purpose. The few who are called to serve are given the tools for the harvest. God never leaves them on their own. His Spirit always abides in all their undertakings for His kingdom. That is why they can speak with authority because He imbues them with His wisdom.
It is a sacred privilege to share in the work of the Lord’s ministers, our bishops and priests, whose authority emanates directly from God. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” This passage is a strong admonition for them to safeguard all the spiritual graces that Jesus has entrusted to them in the ministry of the sacraments. How fortunate we are to have the Lord’s ministers to provide us what we need for our spiritual benefit – practically for free. It should therefore only be natural for us to accord the reverence due them as God’s holy ministers, and to help them in the ministry of propagating the Gospel values of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’d like to believe that there must be a higher reason for the continuing decline in the priestly vocation; perhaps we are in the age of the “clericalization” of the laity. Our Lord is asking us, “Who do you say that I am?” All of us who believe that He is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” are bound by the same mandate that binds His priestly ministers — to declare Jesus as our Savior to others, and to serve our Mother Church through our talents and resources. This we can do through our renewal community.
There are many ways by which we can serve the Lord in His vineyard. Whether as speaker, group leader, prayer leader or even just a volunteer servant, God will provide the grace we need to make our service a blessed exercise. When we are asked to prepare a talk, personal testimony, or inspired to write reflections on the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will give us certain gifts like wisdom or discernment, and revealed by Divine Providence Himself! Like St. Peter, but in a minor way, we are also privileged to receive the “keys of heaven.” When a task is done, like a testimony shared or a talk delivered, we can feel like St. Paul who “has fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Tim.4:7) “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed.” (2Tim.4:17)
To everyone involved in the ministry of the Word, the work is the reward itself because the manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s gifts are such precious influences. We believe our Lord’s words that “flesh and blood has not revealed (these to us), but (our) heavenly Father.” (Mt.16:17) What a joy it is to know that like the disciples of Jesus, we too are being sent by the Lord in spreading the Good News of salvation.
Thank You, Lord for the assurance of Your kingdom that we receive through our pope, bishops and priests; and for the precious opportunity of sharing in their work. Amen.