By Father Edward McIlmail, LC
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the
Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the
Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the
prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say
that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are
the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said
to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son 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."
Introductory Prayer: Jesus,
I believe in you. I believe that you came into
this world to suffer and die to give me a
chance at eternal salvation. I want to draw close to
you in this prayer. May this time I spend with
you be an expression of my love.
me, Lord, to enter into a deeper, personal relationship with
- Identity Crisis: Jesus isn´t interested in what "others"
think of him. He wants to know what I think
of him. The test of any relationship is how committed
people are to each other. At some point a young
woman will wonder, how serious is her boyfriend? After a
few weeks of class, a professor wants to know, who
are the serious students here? On the eve of battle
a soldier might wonder, can I count on my buddies
when the bullets start flying? Likewise, Our Lord wonders about
us. What does Christ mean to me? Is he just
a picture on a holy card? A dimly perceived do-gooder
from the past? Or does he have a real place
in my life? He is, after all, the Second Person
of the Trinity who came into the world in order
to save us. How does that truth affect my faith?
- Heavenly Revelation: Peter professes that Jesus is the
Christ, the Messiah. And Jesus in turn tells him that
this knowledge doesn´t come from the world. It comes from
God the Father. Recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves
an act of faith. Throughout history skeptics have tried to
figure out Jesus, using just their reason and tools of
research. But since when do we try to understand the
totality of a person with reason? Learning about another person
can often require personal contact, above all, listening to him
or her. Do I try to listen to Jesus in
prayer, in Scripture? Or do I simply try to "figure
- Binding and Loosing: Keys were a
symbol of authority. Our Lord had all authority on earth
(see Matthew 28:18 and Mark 2:10). Authority implies the ability
to delegate it; hence, Jesus gave Peter, as the first
pope, the power to bind and loose, that is, to
make disciplinary rules within the Church. A child who disobeys
a licit command from its mother is committing a sin.
Why? Not because Mom is God, but because Mom has
authority from God. Authority, in this case papal authority, is
not an imposition but rather a service. The Pope´s unique
authority gives us a sure guide on moral questions. The
Pope doesn´t have the power to make morality but rather
to define authoritatively on issues at hand. How well do
I know papal teaching? Do I make an effort to
learn why he teaches as he teaches? When a difficulty
arises, do I consult Church teaching? "Whoever listens to you
listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16).
Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to love my
faith as an expression of my personal relationship with you.
Keep me from ever growing cold in my faith. Grant
me a renewed appreciation for the gift of papal authority.
Resolution: I will read a few paragraphs of the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, a few about
the papacy (880-887, 895, 1559).