Simon Peter’s profession of Christ at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-30) is one of the most important ecclesial passages found in all of the Gospels. Moving beyond, yet incorporated within the prophetic tradition, Simon states that he believes Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. He professed both what and who Jesus is. This confession is made in a place that is truly Jewish territory, but is also at the threshold (or gateway) of the Gentile world.
To Peter, and his successors, is given broad ecclesial authority to be hold the keys and to bind and loose. In order to effectively use such authority, Saint Paul states, clearly, (Romans 11:33-36) “How deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable his judgments, how unsearchable his ways!” Through prayer, those who exercise the highest levels of the ministry of the Church must be those who seek to know the heart and mind of God.
I have lived through the succession of seven men to the Chair of Peter, but in reality I remember only five! Pius XII, St. John XXIII, Blessed Paul VI, Servant of God John Paul I, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. Each of these men brought different gifts and talents to their ministries. At the same time, each faced remarkable challenges standing at the gateway of the Church and the world. No doubt today, inspired by the Gospel itself, we pray for the Pope:
O God, who in your providential design willed that your Church be built upon Blessed Peter, whom you set over the other Apostles. Look with favor, we pray, on Francis our Pope and grant that he, whom you have made Peter’s successor, may be for your people a visible source and foundation of unity in faith and of communion.
May the week ahead be filled with many blessings!