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
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
1. 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 him out"?
3. 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.
I will read a few paragraphs of
the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, a
few about the papacy (880-887, 895, 1559).