Lector's Notes

First Reading – Tips

by Gregory Warnusz

We read this passage today only to prepare ourselves to hear the day’s gospel, Matthew 16:13-20, where Jesus grants Peter “keys to the kingdom of heaven.” So emphasize the parts about the key, and “when he opens, no one will shut,” etc.

Second Reading – Tips

by Gregory Warnusz

This beautiful passage calls for careful oral interpretation. Saint Paul is so excited about something he has written in prior paragraphs that he bursts into this rhapsodic praise of God. Try to capture Paul’s mood when you proclaim this passage to the congregation.Chances are the congregation won’t know the background. But let them know that you, like Saint Paul, have some reason to give glory to God.

READ MORE

Intro to Readings
by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

Isaiah spoke several oracles against Judah’s pagan neighbors, as we would expect. But he also denounced Jerusalem and its corrupt leaders. This passage predicts the firing of an official of the king’s court, and his replacement by a leader who will remind everyone of King David from their glorious past.

Second Reading

In three prior chapters, Saint Paul has figured out how God will bring all peoples into the grace of Jesus Christ, even the Israelites who, by rejecting Jesus, seem to have given up their status as the Chosen People. The brilliance and subtlety of the plan inspire this hymn of God’s praise.

Gospel

Ancient Middle Eastern people were always concerned about how other people regarded them. Jesus, too, asked his friends what others were saying about him. They gave the routine reports, then one different and surprising opinion.

READ MORE

Sunday’s Central Themes

Commentary, bible study and Gospel videos

Word-Sunday.com

by Larry Broding

FIRST READING

Measure to the Heart

How do you measure the character and intent of others?

PSALM

Thank you, God for standing by me

SECOND READING

In ways unknown

Have you ever day dreamed about controlling your environment, your future, or others in your world? Have you ever wondered why your world does not work the way you expect?

GOSPEL

Faith and Church Leadership

What is the true power of peer pressure?

Doctrinal Homily Outlines

by Kevin Aldrich

The Keys of the Kingdom

Central idea: The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

Doctrine: The Office of the Pope

Practical application: Cooperating with the Pope and Our Bishop

INTROFIRST READINGPSALMSECOND READINGGOSPELCONNECTIONSQUESTIONSCHURCH FATHERSCATECHISM
Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

THIS WEEK’S IMAGES

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 FIRST READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

First Reading

commentary

"I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.” — Isaiah 22:23

As the pope of a generation, John Paul II touched millions, believers and non-believers alike. Just nine years after his death, he was canonized by Pope Francis. The power of his life and witness lives on. - John Paul II National Shrine
RELATED VIDEO: Saint John Paul II National Shrine

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 RESPONSORIAL PSALM 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Responsorial Psalm

"In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple" — Psalm 138:1-2

Detail of frescoes in the crypt at Mt. St. Mary (Marienberg) depicting the risen Lord surrounded by the four winged creatures and above all by a great throng of singing angels. Their singing is an expression of that joy which no one can take from them, of the dissolution of existence into the rejoicing of freedom fulfilled. (cf. In the Presence of the Angels I will Sing Your Praise by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1996.

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 SECOND READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Second Reading

"For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" — Romans 11:36

View of the Milky Way over Cathedral Rock, seen from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead on Back O' Beyond Road, Sedona, Arizona, on April 30, 2017 by Deborah Lee Soltesz. Credit: U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest.

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 GOSPEL READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Gospel

"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.” — Matthew 16:19

The relief above the main doorway of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, depicting Christ giving the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to the first Pope, St. Peter.
RELATED VIDEO: St. Peter’s Basilica (14:23)

Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

commentary

"I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.” — Isaiah 22:23

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 FIRST READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

First Reading

Is 22:19-23

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The symbolic key of power is given to Eliakim

FIRST READING—The prophet Isaiah is delivering God’s judgment to a disgraced public official, Shebna, who supports Israel’s military alliance with one pagan nation (Egypt) against another (Assyria). The failed alliance is disastrous for Israel, which the prophet attributes to a failure to trust in the Lord alone. Shebna will therefore be removed from his position of trust and honor and a successor named. The Lord promises, “I will give over to him your authority… I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder”(Is 22:21, 22). The basis for conferring this symbolic key of power is, of course, Eliakim’s perceived trust in the Lord God alone.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. PATRICIA 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

The guardian of God’s house

FIRST READING—The chapter describes the fate of Jerusalem and puts the blame partially on Shebna, master of the palace. This faithless servant was busy looking after number one. He had even built himself an elaborate tomb monument on a mountain. The rock he had used would mark his disgrace.

The role of Shebna and his garments of office would be given to a more worthy candidate. God says, “I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot to be a place of honour for his family.” Is.22:22.

[In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims] Peter as guardian of the house of God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. THIBODEAU 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

God warns those who are unfaithful leaders

FIRST READING—God wants the people of Jerusalem to know that their leaders need to be faithful to theterms ofthe Covenant. Those human leaders represent the Lord; they are to reflect the righteousnessof God to the people they govern in God’s name. There is a code of behavior to beobserved as a sign of faithfulness to the Lord. They cannot merely say that they are faithful;they must show it by the quality oftheir actions. From Chapters 13 to 21,the prophet had spokenof how neighboring nations would be punished for their hostility and cruelty. He thenturnstoJerusalem and calls its people to righteous lives also in Chapter 22. As God’s specialpeople they cannot be exempt from what God requires of others

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. McGLONE 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

God provides leadership for the people

FIRST READING—We come in at the middle of the story in this selection from Isaiah. It begins with the prophet’s vehement critique of Shebna, an arrogant, prophet-contradicting master of the palace who encouraged the king to get involved in a hopeless battle against Assyria. Most symbolically, Shebna constructed an elaborate, highly placed tomb for himself — perhaps an unwitting indication of the hollowness of his ambitions. Our reading begins with the oracle predicting Shebna’s fall and God’s intent to place another, one far more faithful, in his role.

This selection from Isaiah connects with today’s Gospel through the symbols of the keys and the authority to open and close or bind and loose. But, in reality Hilkiah receives much more power and honor than Jesus gives to Peter. Hilkiah is dressed in fine clothing, is called the father of the people and is described like a strong, anchoring tent peg for his people. Peter isn’t going to fulfill those roles by a long shot. Nevertheless, Isaiah’s message is that God provides leadership for the people.

This story also reminds us of a theme that runs through both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures. Even as most of the leaders we read about in the Bible furthered God’s plan, they all had their own well-known flaws. There is something consoling in the way Scripture depicts the people God chooses to be authorities as fallible humans who have as much need of conversion as do the rest of us. As long as they remember that, they are good guides. When they forget it, God’s warning is clear: “I … will pull you down.”

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦 AGAPE BIBLE STUDY 🟦🟦 FIRST READING 🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦

The Lord appoints a Vicar of the Davidic Kindgom

FIRST READING—God instructs the prophet Isaiah to appoint Eliakim to become the chief steward or vicar of the palace, the center of government for the Davidic kingdom. God tells the prophet Isaiah that Eliakim must receive all the signs of the office of vicar/chief steward. His signs of authority included a special garment identifying his high office, the title of “father” to the people of the kingdom, and the “key of the house of David.” The key is his sign of authority and gives him the power to “open and shut,” meaning to make binding decisions for the good of the Davidic kingdom. The oracle of Isaiah finds significant resonance in the New Testament when Jesus divinely appoints Peter to become the Vicar of His Kingdom of the Church. Jesus gave Peter the same powers as Eliakim, including the keys of His kingdom and the authority to “open and shut” or “bind and loose” in governing the Kingdom of the Church.

Exploring the Text

Signs of the office of vicar/chief steward

Shebna was the vicar/chief steward of the Davidic king Hezekiah of Judah in c. 710 BC (also mentioned in 2 Kings 18:26, 37; 19:2 and Isaiah 36:3, 11, 22; and 37:2).  Shebna failed in his duties to the Davidic king, and therefore God tells Isaiah to dismiss him from his office and replace him with God’s righteous servant Eliakim.  In replacing Shebna, Eliakim will receive all the signs of the office of vicar/chief steward which included:

  • A special garment that identified his high office (verse 21)
  • Respect as a “father” to the people of the kingdom (verse 21)
  • As the chief steward/vicar of the king, he would have charge of the “key of the house of David” which was his sign of authority and gave him the power to “open and shut” (make binding decisions) for the good of the kingdom (verse 22)
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Oracle of Isaiah in the New Testament

The oracle of Isaiah, especially in verse 22, finds significant resonance in the New Testament associated with our Gospel reading.  The text of verse 22 also has a link to the Davidic Messiah in the Book of Revelation.  That passage describes the Messiah as The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open (Rev 3:7).  Jesus is the new David, and the “key of David” that He holds is the key of divine authority to open the door of Heaven (Mt 3:16; CCC 1026).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Oracle of Isaiah in the Church's Liturgy

The Church’s Liturgy of the  “O Antiphons” in the week before Christmas extols Christ and gives Him the Messianic title: “Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, you who reign over the whole world, come and free those who wait for you in darkness” (Divine Office, Antiphon at Vespers, December 20th).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): As the pope of a generation, John Paul II touched millions, believers and non-believers alike. Just nine years after his death, he was canonized by Pope Francis. The power of his life and witness lives on. - John Paul II National Shrine
Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

"In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple" — Psalm 138:1-2

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 RESPONSORIAL PSALM 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 138: 1-2, 2-3, 6, 8

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—In this hymn of thanksgiving, the Psalmist, unlike Shebna, places his confidence in God.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦 AGAPE BIBLE STUDY 🟦🟦 PSALM 🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦

The hymn of a grateful heart

PSALM—The Responsorial Psalm acknowledges that God has a divine plan for the life of every person. The inspired writer offers a hymn of joy and thanksgiving because God the Father reveals the mystery of His Kingdom to His people. Those who sing God’s praise in the liturgy of worship must trust in the Lord and His purposes, believing that He is faithful and will not forsake His faithful people. The Lord sees the condition of the poor and humble, He hears petitions made in His name, and He gives His people the strength they need to endure suffering. However, God does not have an intimate relationship with the proud and selfish whose sins become a barrier to a relationship with Him.

Exploring the Text

Introduction to the Psalm

The title of the Psalm attributes the author of this hymn of gratitude and praise as King David, the shepherd boy God anointed to “shepherd” His covenant people, Israel (1 Sam 16:1-13), and the ancestor of the Virgin Mary and Jesus (Mt 1:1; Lk 1:32).  Verse 2 seems to suggest that the Levitical choir sang Psalm 138 during worship services in the Jerusalem Temple.  It begins in verses 1-3 with praise of the Lord for benefits the covenant people received from the Lord.  These benefits include God’s answer to petitions made in His name and the strength God gave His people to help them endure suffering (verse 2b).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's divine plan for every person

The Lord sees the condition of the poor and humble, and He hears their petitions (2b, 6a). However, God does not have an intimate relationship with the proud and selfish whose sins take them far from Him (verse 6b). The Psalm acknowledges that God has a divine plan for the life of every person and that those who sing God’s praise must trust in the Lord and His purposes, having confidence that the Lord is faithful and will not forsake His people (verse 8b).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): Detail of frescoes in the crypt at Mt. St. Mary (Marienberg) depicting the risen Lord surrounded by the four winged creatures and above all by a great throng of singing angels. Their singing is an expression of that joy which no one can take from them, of the dissolution of existence into the rejoicing of freedom fulfilled. (cf. In the Presence of the Angels I will Sing Your Praise by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1996.
Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

"For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" — Romans 11:36

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 SECOND READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Second Reading

Rom 11:33-36

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Paul’s hymn of praise to God

SECOND READING—This is an acclamation of praise to God. Paul’s hymn comes at the end of his discussion of Israel’s place in God’s plan of salvation in light of the Christ-event. Although Paul anguishes over the fact that many Jews have not accepted Christ, he asserts that their slowness to believe has led to the Gentile mission. Ultimately, Jews as well as Gentiles will receive God’s mercy. When faced with the unexplainable, unfathomable and unexpected turn of events in human history as it pertains to Jews as well as Gentiles, Paul’s only response is awe.

God’s riches or fullness, his wisdom and knowledge, are the subject of verses 33. God’s riches convey the sense of overflowing abundance of a God whose very being, whose love and fidelity, can neither be contained nor limited. As the Scripture attests, God’s ways of doing things are often not our ways. One can only respond with awe to God’s mysterious ways. God’s knowledge and understanding surpass all human designs. God’s wisdom is something we receive as a gift from him.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. PATRICIA 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Giving glory to God

SECOND READING—Chapter 11 of the letter to the Romans concludes with a hymn to Divine Wisdom. This beautiful hymn points us to an understanding of today’s readings.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? Or who has given a gift to him in the hope of being repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

In Jesus and through Jesus, ordinary, weak, sinful people, united with one another find the strength and courage to live to their full potential, thus giving glory to God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. THIBODEAU 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

Paul breaks out in praise and worship

SECOND READING—Paul borrows from the prophet Isaiah, from the Book of Job, and from Stoic writingsto acclaim the mighty Lord of the universe whohas worked such wonders in theworld, among which is the awesome achievement of bringing together Jew and Gentilefor the ultimate praise of the Lord’s glory. There can be no greater work than that; onlyGod could ever have achieved what is truly beyond any human power: the reconciliationof the nations with the people of Israel.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. McGLONE 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Paul’s trust in God’s love

SECOND READING—For the past couple of weeks we have witnessed Paul’s process of working through the theological problem he pondered and the emotional distress he suffered from his own people’s inability or refusal to believe in Jesus. We heard him express his deep conviction that God’s choice of Israel was irrevocable and at the same time, his anguish at their inexplicable inability to accept what God had accomplished in Christ. We saw his sorrowful confusion as he, like so many other religious people, struggled to accept the fact that he had done everything he could to share his faith, and that the only thing left to do on behalf of his beloved unbelievers was to trust in God.

Paul eventually emerged from that process with a hymn of praise. It wasn’t that he had any answers to his questions, but he had encountered God’s mercy at the heart of them. This is one of those instances in which we see how God’s grace continually works at a level slightly deeper and stronger than the pain and desire of the faithful who pray for answers. Although it may not have been his intention, Paul’s willingness to expose his sorrow and frustration provides a witness for all who are willing to be praying evangelizers.

The first line of Paul’s prayer of praise aptly reflects the Book of Job. Job had cried out to God about his innocent suffering and Paul lamented his people’s lack of faith. Out of deep pain, one personal, the other communal, they both turned to God with an inconsolable, “Why!” Both of them were reminded of what Psalm 139 proclaims: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, far too lofty for me to reach.” As if in response to that affirmation, Paul quotes and admits the truth conveyed by Isaiah 40:13: “Who has known the mind of the Lord?”

The next line, “who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?” depicts the kind of humility necessary for anyone who wishes to get involved in a serious relationship with God.

Paul had dedicated his life to evangelization with unparalleled apostolic fervor. It took immense conviction and tenacity to do that. At the same time, he had to maintain the profound humility of admitting that God’s ways are inscrutable, that God owed him no explanations. Maintaining that balance was a task that would lead either to schizophrenia or sanctity.

What can Paul teach us about the road to sanctity? How did he persevere as an evangelizer when he had such intense, wrenching questions? It would seem that, audaciously outspoken as he was, Paul maintained the Jewish virtue of fear of the Lord. That is what he expressed in his praise of God’s inscrutability. On the day that we demand answers from God, we have constituted ourselves as the standard for truth and have initiated the idolatrous process of creating a god in our own image. That was what Job learned in his pathos. Genuine fear of the Lord provided the melody line of Paul’s hymn; his praise was a simple song of awe and joy in the face of the unfathomable depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. What sustained that hymn was trust in God’s love, the conviction that God’s goodness and mercy surpass every other dimension of God’s greatness. Meditation on Paul’s hymn might be an apt preparation for listening to today’s Gospel with new ears.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦 AGAPE BIBLE STUDY 🟦🟦 SECOND READING 🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦

Hymn to God’s mercy and wisdom

SECOND READING—St. Paul gives a hymn extolling God’s mercy and wisdom. Paul declares that divine wisdom and knowledge are beyond the grasp of human understanding, and no one can anticipate the Lord’s acts of mercy and grace. Paul writes that God does not depend on humanity to dispense His gifts, but He does invite humankind to partake of the richness of His favor through their response to faith in acts of mercy and love. Concerning God’s divine plan for humanity in establishing the Kingdom of the Church as His vehicle of salvation, St. Paul writes: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.”

Exploring the Text

Three-part division of the hymn

After the four times repetition of the word “mercy” in Romans 11:30-32, Saint Paul breaks into a hymn extolling both God’s mercy and His wisdom.  This moving hymn of praise forms a conclusion to this section of Paul’s letter concerning the salvation of all Israel.  The hymn falls into a three-part division:

  1. Opening exclamation of praise (verse 33)
  2. Scriptural rhetorical questions (verses 34-35)
  3. Concluding doxology (verse 36)
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's wisdom and knowledge

Paul begins by acknowledging that God’s “wisdom and knowledge” are beyond the grasp of human understanding by combining two verses in Psalms 139 into one line in verse 33.  Then, he quotes from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) Old Testament books of Isaiah and Job in verses 34-35.  Paul may be reflecting on the mysterious plan in which God’s election of Israel as His chosen people has worked to bring the estranged Gentile peoples within the scope of God’s plan of eternal salvation.  In the first part, Paul alludes to Psalm 139:6 and 17a.  He writes: Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach (139:6), and How precious to me are your designs, O God (139:17a).  Compare those verses with Romans 11:33 ~ How rich and deep are the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  We cannot reach to the root of his decisions or his ways.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The mind of the Lord

In the second part of the hymn, Paul quotes directly from the Septuagint (LXX) of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 35:7 in a set of three rhetorical questions:

  1. Who has ever known the mind of the Lord?
  2. Who has ever been his adviser?
  3. Who has given anything to him, so that his presents come only as a debt returned?

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul quotes the same passage from Isaiah and provides the answer: For who has ever known the mind of the Lord?  Who has ever been his adviser?  But we are those who have the mind of Christ.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's free gift of grace

The other Old Testament passage in the third rhetorical question is from Job 35:7 (LXX), Who has given anything to him, so that his presents come only as a debt returned? In other words, no one can anticipate God’s acts of mercy and grace.  He does not depend on humanity to dispense these gifts.  However, He does invite humankind to partake of the richness of His favor through their response to faith.  But the gift of grace He gives is not as a payment for services rendered or “a debt returned”—it is a gift freely given in divine love.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Doxology: God acknowledged in three ways

In the final verse, that is the doxology of the hymn, St. Paul acknowledges God in three ways.  He acknowledges God as:

  1. the Creator
  2. the Sustainer, and
  3. the Goal of everything that exists.

All creation is dependent on God.  Everything comes from Him: Israel’s prerogatives as the Chosen People, Israel’s hardening of mind and heart concerning the Messiah, and the election of the Gentile nations to the New Covenant graces.  All peoples, in fact, all the earth and the cosmos are destined to glorify Him as the One True God!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): View of the Milky Way over Cathedral Rock, seen from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead on Back O' Beyond Road, Sedona, Arizona, on April 30, 2017 by Deborah Lee Soltesz. Credit: U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest.
Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

"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.” — Matthew 16:19

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 GOSPEL READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Gospel Reading

Mt 16:13-20

NEW! View videos related to Gospel

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The primacy of Peter and his successors

GOSPEL—The Gospel opens with Jesus asking the disciples “Who do people say that I am?” They respond that people see him as a prophet. Then Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is. Peter, in a moment of a great insight, speaks up on behalf of the other disciples: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter probably says more than he knows.

Then Jesus shifts the focus from himself to Peter. After Peter names the identity and mission of Jesus, Jesus unfolds the identity and mission of Peter. Jesus confers a new title on Peter. Going forward, Peter will be the foundation stone of a new people (the Church

This Gospel shows that the primacy of Peter (which each of his successors holds) is not something that was invented by the Church later on. It goes back to the mind and will of Jesus himself.

The failures of popes throughout history do not contradict Jesus’ promise that “the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.” Peter himself failed the Lord. In giving authority and primacy to the one who will deny him, Jesus is communicating to us that his Church was not established on human strength, but on his own divine love and faithfulness. The Church’s true foundation is Christ himself. The Pope is servant, not his substitute.

The words “binding” and “loosing” refers to the Church’s authority to legislate, e.g., to name behaviors that lead to life and to forbid behaviors that lead us away from Christ. In addition the power to bind and loose refers to the Church’s authority to excommunicate a member just as Paul did. (See 1Cor 5:5).

Jesus forbids the disciples to speak of this event because it would be misunderstood prior to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit will enlighten the people.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. PATRICIA 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Motifs of location, rock-foundation and keys of the kingdom

GOSPEL—The Gospel for today is linked closely to the gospel for next Sunday. We need to see today’s passage as a prelude to next Sunday’s reading.

There are three important motifs in this story. The first is the location, at Caesarea Philippi which lies to the north of the Sea of Galilee. This city was built on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, near one of the sources of the Jordan River. It was a place of divine revelation. Ancient writings record such instances as Enoch having visions in this place. Here in this place of revelation Peter identifies Jesus as Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus poses the question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Peter replies, “You are Messiah, Son of the Living God.”

The tile Son of Man is a very difficult one to understand. It is used almost exclusively by Jesus of himself. One interpretation is that Jesus, who taught in parables, used this title as a kind of parable. This means it is a name that requires engagement by the listener. It would also provide a reason why it was not a common title for Jesus in the early church. The exchange then seems to suggest that Jesus uses an ambiguous title for himself while Peter’s response is such that it could only be a revelatory gift of God.

The second motif of importance is the symbol of rock-foundation. There are many examples of puns on names in the Scriptures. They fit with the Jewish love of humour. Issac, which means “joke”, as in the joke’s on us- conceiving a child in old age. It appears that Peter had the nick-name “Rocky”. This could have come from his appearance or maybe his temperament. Jesus uses this as a kind of “in” joke. In Isaiah, 51:1-2, we read, “look to the rock from which you were hewn”. In Ps.118:22 we read, “the stone which the builder rejected has become the cornerstone.” Christ is the capstone but Peter is an important part of the foundation.

The third motif, keys of the kingdom, has its reference point in Isaiah 22:22. It is this passage which is in our first reading. A little bit of background will situate it. The chapter describes the fate of Jerusalem and puts the blame partially on Shebna, master of the palace. This faithless servant was busy looking after number one. He had even built himself an elaborate tomb monument on a mountain. The rock he had used would mark his disgrace. The role of Shebna and his garments of office would be given to a more worthy candidate. God says, “I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot to be a place of honour for his family.” Is.22:22. Peter is guardian of the house of God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permision.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. THIBODEAU 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

Peter confesses the faith of the Church

GOSPEL—The Church only gives us half of the story in stopping at verse 20 of this passage from Matthew. The whole story is that, after having exalted Peter with a new title and the promise of new responsibilities, Jesus also rebukes Peter when the latter would not hear of suffering in the role of the Messiah and in his own role as the agent of that Messiah. Verses 21-23 make the story complete: The Messiah must die in order to fulfill his mission. Peter will not hear it.So, Jesus says to him, “Get in line behind me, my agent; do not be a rock over which people will stumble.”

A satan in the Bible is an agent of God, an enforcer, an adversary, who brings people around to do God’s will. (See the role of the satan in the Book of Job.) I would prefer to translate this passage the way I think Matthew meant it. He has Jesus say to Peter: “Get in line behind me; go where I am going: to the cross! That way,you will truly be living up to your role as my satan. You will be the rock of faithfulness and not the rock over which the disciples will stumble.”

Now, let us go back to the portion of this chapter that is given us in the lectionary.

The real message of this Gospel has nothing to do with establishing the pope as almighty on earth. Peter, representing all community leaders in Matthew’s assembly, must be a sure guide, a firm and staunch believer in Jesus and not a scandal or an occasion of sin for the rest of the faithful. His faith will be the foundation upon which rests the faith of the community.His willingness to die with Jesus must be the example given to all who believe in Jesus.

Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ. Jesus confesses Peter to be the Rock. Matthew makes it quite clear by this parallel structure that he wants the community to understand that believing in Christ has priority over and is an essential prerequisite to leadership in the faith community. This Gospel is about the Church and its leaders. Believing that Jesus is the Anointed one of God comes first and serves as the foundation upon which will rest the beliefs and the commitments of the rest of the community.

Notice that Jesus first tells them to keep this title (Messiah) secret until its fuller meaning has been revealed in the Passion and resurrection.

Jesus has been calling himself”Son of Man” (Matthew 8:20). It is a title that derives from the Book of Daniel, where a human being is designated as representative of all that is human. “Son of” in Semitic languages means “the ultimate of that kind.” Son of Man would seem to mean He who represents the whole human race before God.

Peter calls Jesus Son of God. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This title is not used by Jesus when referring to himself. But it is the title given him by those who acknowledge his origins and his role. The demons call him Son of God (Matthew 8:29). The disciples too (Matthew 14:33). Finally, the Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross (Matthew27:54). The Jewish authorities and the crowd use the title only when they want to mock him(Matthew 27:40 and 43).

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. McGLONE 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Who do you say that I am?

GOSPEL—Talk about being put on the spot! How rare and potentially embarrassing is it to have a friend look you in the eye and ask, “What do you think of me?” How are we supposed to approach that question? We might hide behind the details that belong in a résumé, mentioning professional, social or athletic accomplishments. Getting a little more personal, we could refer to the person’s qualities and remain on the superficial level of adjectives like “nice, good-looking, strong,” or venture into more relational descriptions such as “my friend, my beloved, my hero.” That’s pretty much the disciples’ challenge in today’s Gospel.

Jesus led his friends away from their normal stomping grounds and then started to ask questions that, ultimately, led them to explain who they themselves were as they continued to follow his lead.

When Jesus asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” he started innocently enough by getting them to report on what they were hearing about him. In the days before Twitter or NPR, their grapevine relied on what they picked up at synagogue patios and city gates, plus a little of what the women heard around the town well. Without naming their blowhard source, their first answer cited Herod’s phobic notion that Jesus might be the Baptist back from the dead. Then, they added popular opinions that identified him with Elijah or another of the prophets. What kind of look did Jesus give the disciples as they recited the names of the long-deceased people he was rumored to impersonate?

Then, yanking them right out of the role of impartial reporting, Jesus put them on the witness stand by asking one direct question: “But who do you say that I am?” One can imagine that the ground beneath their feet suddenly seemed fascinating as they pondered how to respond. Peter eventually spoke up. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

That was a great answer and so open-ended that he could hardly have been wrong.

The title “Christ” simply means “anointed.” It could refer to a Hebrew king, a priest, a prophet or even a foreigner like Cyrus the Persian. It clearly conveyed the idea that Jesus was God’s agent, but whether or not he was a savior or what kind of a savior he might be, was anything but obvious.

Theological precision aside, Peter’s statement in the name of the group, effectively declared that their relationship with Jesus was the commitment that defined their lives. When Jesus responded “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,” he acknowledged that he saw God’s grace at work in Peter. Building on the Father’s affirmation of him at his baptism, this interaction assured Jesus not only that he was God’s beloved, but that his mission would find a home and a future among his disciples. While their faith was not yet resilient enough to withstand the storms to come and still needed much clarification, it was enough to build on. In fact, Jesus proclaimed that it was strong enough that the netherworld could not overcome it.

By calling Jesus the Son of God, Peter had desacralized the Roman Empire’s claims about the divinity of Caesar and the validity of his rule. When Jesus gave Peter the “power of the keys,” he was delegitimizing the religious elite who claimed the exclusive right to interpret the Mosaic Law. The disciples had seen Jesus “loose” the laws of Sabbath and purity; now he was sharing that responsibility with them. In giving Peter and his church the keys to the kingdom of heaven, Jesus gave them the responsibility to open doors as he had done throughout his ministry. While the official religious authorities were often quick to decide who was in and who was out, Jesus excluded no one but rather mourned the plight of those who excluded themselves by rejecting the gifts he offered.

When we read this story as a dialog about apostolic dedication, we begin to comprehend what it means for the church today. Those of us who make bold to stand with Peter and say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” are making a commitment and receiving a vocation. We are consecrating ourselves to worship no god but God, to abjure all the idols of power and prestige that marginalize God’s little ones. We are joining with Jesus, the disciples and prophets in the mission to use every key we can get our hands on to free prisoners and to fling open the doors of full access to the goods of creation for each and every daughter and son of the living God.

Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” may make us uncomfortable. It also turns the tables and asks us, “Who do you say you are?”

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦 AGAPE BIBLE STUDY 🟦🟦 GOSPEL 🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦🟦

The Founding of the Church

GOSPEL—Jesus gives St. Peter the keys of His earthly Kingdom of the Church. Jesus, the root and offspring of David (Mt 1:1; Rev 4:5), holds by divine right the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven with authority to forgive or bind sins, thereby opening or closing a person’s entrance into the heavenly Kingdom (Rev 1:18; 5:5; 22:16).  The keys to the heavenly Kingdom have an earthly counterpart in the key of the Davidic Kingdom that every descendant of King David entrusted to his chief steward/vicar.  An example is Eliakim, the chief steward of King Hezekiah, who Scripture calls a spiritual “father” to the covenant people (First Reading).

After Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, Jesus commissioned Peter as the chief steward/vicar of His Kingdom of Heaven on earth that is the universal Church.  Peter and all who succeed him in the office of Vicar of Jesus’ Kingdom of the Church are the spiritual “fathers” to the New Covenant people, and they have the power and authority entrusted to them by Jesus, the true Davidic King, to govern the Church until He returns in glory.  Jesus also gives His ministerial priesthood the authority to bind or loose (forgive or retain) sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation when He breathed the Holy Spirit upon His Apostles and told them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23).

Exploring the Text

Geography of Caesarea Philippi

Jesus led His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi, a town about 40 km (more than 20 miles) north of the Sea of Galilee.  Caesarea Philippi (also described as a collection of villages in Mk 8:27) was situated on the southern slope of Mount Hermon and strategically located on the border with Syria.  It was on land that had been the territory of the Israelite tribe of Dan and was at one time the northern boundary of the Promised Land.  At the time of Jesus’ ministry, it was part of the tetrarchy of Herod the Great’s son Philip and had a mostly Gentile population.  The city was near the site of one of the springs that was a source of the Jordan River.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Region had a long tradition as a spiritual site

The original Canaanite inhabitants built shrines there to the pagan gods Baal-Gad (Josh 11:17; 12:7; 13:5) and Baal-Hermon (Judg 3:3; 1 Chr 5:23).  After the Greek conquest in the 4th century BC, they dedicated a shrine to Pan (pagan god of nature, shepherds, flocks, springs, and fertility) where the headwaters of the Jordan River emerged from the ground (Josephus, Antiquities, 15.10.3 [364]).  They also named the nearby town Panias after the Greek god Pan.   Then, in the latter part of the 1st century BC, Herod the Great built a temple to Caesar Augustus near the source of the Jordan River.  When Herod the Great’s son Philip became the ruler of the region, he rebuilt the small town of Panias into a Hellenistic city, naming it after the Roman Caesar and adding his name, hence, Caesarea Philippi.  In choosing this rocky mountain location to announce the foundation of His Church upon Peter and his proclamation of faith in Jesus as the divine Messiah, Jesus was reclaiming holy ground that had been usurped by the pagans.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
People's views of Jesus' identity

Using His favorite title for Himself, Jesus asks His disciples what were the people’s views concerning His identity.  The disciples respond that some, like Herod Antipas, thought He was John the Baptist returned from the dead (Mt 14:2).  Others, they say, believed He was the prophet Elijah, prophesied to herald the coming of the Messiah (Mal 3:23/4:5), or that He has come in the spirit of the prophet Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

All of the men mentioned by the disciples were prophets.  While there had been many false prophets, the people realized that the true spirit of prophecy had been absent from the covenant people of God since the prophet Malachi in the 5th century BC.  The people had waited for centuries for the coming of another prophet like Moses, as he promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  The event of God sending a divinely inspired prophet and an outpouring of God’s Spirit (Ez 36:26-27; Joel 3:1-2) were the signs that the people believed heralded the coming of the Messianic Age.  Jesus was teaching with authority, speaking in the symbolic language of the prophets, and performing miracles and symbolic acts like the prophets.  Jesus also referred to Himself as a prophet several times (see Mt 13:57; Lk 4:24; 13:33).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus asks Peter 'Who do you (plural) say that I am?''

Then Jesus asks the disciples, “who do you [plural] say that I am?” St. Peter responds to Jesus’ question concerning His true identity by confessing that He is not only the promised Davidic “Messiah” but that He is “the Son of the Living God.” While the usual meaning of the title “son of God” in the Old Testament referred to a form of adoption as “sons” of God for angels, prophets, the children of Israel, or Davidic kings, this is not the way Peter offers his confession of Jesus’ identity.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Peter's confession of faith

15 He said to them, “But who do you [plural] say that I am?”  16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

St. Peter responds to Jesus’ question concerning His true identity by confessing that He is not only the promised Davidic “Messiah” but that He is “the Son of the Living God.” While the usual meaning of the title “son of God” in the Old Testament referred to a form of adoption as “sons” of God for angels, prophets, the children of Israel, or Davidic kings, this is not the way Peter offers his confession of Jesus’ identity.

17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you [singular], Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father (emphasis added).

It is Jesus’ response by which He continually addresses Peter in the singular “you” instead of the plural “you” as when he first asked His question, which tells us that Peter understands Jesus’ true identity as the divine Son of God the Father.  The singular “you” also demonstrates that Jesus is not speaking to the disciples as a group but has singled out Peter. See CCC 441-42.  Acknowledging Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus blesses him and tells the assembled disciples that Simon-Peter received this knowledge not from any human person (“flesh and blood”) but, by the grace of God the Father, Peter has received a divine revelation of Jesus’ true nature.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Peter as rock

18 And so I say to you [singular], you [singular] are Peter [Petros], and upon this rock [petra] I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld [Hades] shall not prevail against it.

Jesus is speaking in Aramaic, and the Aramaic translation of the keywords for “rock” in Jesus’ statement in English are: “You are the Rock [Kepa] and upon this rock [kepa] I will build my Church.”  In response to Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus reaffirms the new name He gave him when Jesus first met him on the banks of the Jordan River before He began His ministry in the Galilee.  At that time, Jesus said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Kephas” which is translated Peter (Jn 1:42; also see Mk 3:16 and Lk 6:14 for evidence the earlier name change).

Kephas is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word kepa.  In the Greek text, Matthew uses the masculine Petros for the Greek feminine word for “rock,” which is petra.  Bible scholars and historians have not found any evidence that either Kepha or Petros were personal names before Jesus conferred the name “Rock” on Simon as the leader of the Apostles.  Jesus changed his name to symbolize his change in destiny from humble fisherman to the foundation stone of the Messiah’s community of disciples.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus changes Peter's name

Notice that Jesus identified the name of Peter’s father as “John” (Yehohanan in Hebrew) in His encounter with Simon in John 1:42.  “John” is also the name given for Peter’s father in John 21:15, 16 and 17.  However, in Matthew 16:17, Jesus calls him Simeon bar Jonah (Matthew uses the Aramaic word for son, “bar” instead of the Hebrew, “ben”).  This verse is the sixth time Jesus has mentioned the Galilean prophet Jonah (see Mt 12:39, 40, 41 twice, and 16:4 or the chart in Handout 1 of Matthew Lesson 16).  Jesus has repeatedly symbolically linked the prophet Jonah to His mission.  However, this time Jesus links Jonah to Peter’s mission.  Jonah was a Galilean sent by God to the Gentile people of Nineveh, the capital city of the region’s superpower, the Assyrian Empire, to tell them to repent and to acknowledge the God of Israel.  Jesus will send the Galilean, Simon-Peter, to Rome, the capital city of the region’s superpower, the Roman Empire, to tell the Gentiles of the Roman world to repent and to accept Jesus as Lord-God and Savior.

Jesus changed Simon’s name to Kepha, Rock, Petros in Greek, and Peter in the English that is a transliteration of the Greek name.  A change in the name of a servant of God in Scripture always signifies a change in destiny, as in Abram’s name change to Abraham (Gen 17:4-5) and Hoshea’s name change to Yehoshua/Joshua (Num 13:16).  In the Old Testament, “rock” was a word used to describe Abraham as the physical father from whom the children of Israel “were hewn” (Is 51:1-2).  Rock is not only an adjective used to describe Peter as the spiritual father of the New Covenant children of God.  Jesus uses the word as a personal name signifying a change Simon’s destiny as the leader and foundation “rock” of Jesus’ Kingdom of the Church (CCC 881).  For the word translated “Church” in Matthew 16:18, the Greek text uses the word ekklesia, meaning “called out ones.”  It is a word meant to define Jesus’ assembly of believers, and in English should be translated as “church” (not community).  Ekklesia expresses the same meaning as the Hebrew word for the assembly of the chosen people who were the kahal, the “called out” ones who were called out of the world and into covenant with Yahweh.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The gates of Hades

Hades is the Greek word for the abode of the dead, not the Hell of the damned.  In Hebrew, the realm of the deceased was Sheol.  The Jews believed the “abode of the dead” was like a walled city where its inhabitants were imprisoned.  In this statement, Jesus promises that the power of death will not overcome His Kingdom of the Church.  The Church that is His Kingdom will overcome death (see CCC 632-33).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The keys of the kingdom

19 I will give you the keys of 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.

Peter received three spiritual gifts in Jesus’ blessing in verses 17-19.  He received divine insight, power, and authority.  Peter has the authority to forgive sins or to bind them (thus controlling the entrance into the heavenly kingdom), and Jesus commissions him as the leader of the Apostles and the entire community of believers that will become the New Covenant Church.

19 I will give you the keys of 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.

Jesus elevated Simon-Peter above his fellow Apostles to be the leader of Jesus’ other ministers and the Chief Steward/Vicar of His earthly Kingdom.  Notice the description of the office of the Davidic Vicar/Prime Minister Eliakim in Isaiah 22:20-25 from the First Reading:

  • Eliakim wore a special garment that identified his high office (verse 21).
  • He was a “father” to the people of the kingdom (verse 21).
  • As the Vicar of the King, the Davidic chief minister kept the “key of the house of David” (verse 22).
  • The key was his sign of authority and gave him the power to “open and shut”—make binding decisions for the good of the kingdom (verse 22).
  • God appointed Eliakim to his office (verse 23).
  • He was responsible for the glory of his family, from the least to the greatest member = “all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs” (verse 24).

In the same way, Jesus calls Peter to serve as the Vicar of Christ the King and have authority over His Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the Church that is the “household/family of Christ.  The vicar’s leadership role was civil while the high priest’s role was religious, but Peter will serve as both the chief steward of Jesus’ Kingdom’s and religious authority.  Giving Peter the “keys of the kingdom of Heaven” is Peter’s official elevation to the office of Vicar of Christ’s Kingdom and the shepherd of the “Good Shepherd’s” whole flock (also see Jn 21:15-17; CCC 553).  Peter’s office and the pastoral office of the other Apostles as Christ’s lesser ministers form an apostolic college that belongs to the foundation of the Church.  These are offices founded by Christ and continue in the primacy of the Pope and the universal Magisterium of the bishops (CCC 869, 880-81).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The authority of the Popes

Throughout the centuries, the responsibilities of Peter’s high office have been passed down to the Vicars of Christ who have succeeded him.  The authority of the Popes of the Catholic Church who have succeeded St. Peter are very similar to the Davidic vicars:

  • The Pope wears a garment that identifies his high office.
  • He is a “father” to the people of Christ’s Kingdom of the Church.  The faithful call him “Papa,” “Pope.”
  • As the Vicar of the King, the Pope has the symbolic “keys of the Kingdom Jesus entrusted to Peter.
  • The keys are his sign of authority and give him the power to “bind and loose,” making binding decisions for the good of the Church.
  • He receives a divine appointed to his office through the Holy Spirit’s direction in the discernment of the Council of Cardinals.
  • He is responsible for the glory of his family, the community of the worldwide Church, from the least to the greatest members.
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Binding and Loosing

Unlike the Davidic Vicar in Isaiah 22:22, Peter receives the “keys” plural.  The two keys refer to the power Peter has to “bind and loose” sins, controlling the keys that give access to the Kingdom of Heaven: the key that releases man from the gates of death in Sheol/Hades and the key that provides entry into the gates of Heaven.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus repeats the authority to “bind and loose” to Peter and the college of Apostles (Mt 18:18).  And Jesus reaffirms the authority of this binding power after His Resurrection when He breathed the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and told them: “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:21-23).

Jesus gives Peter, the Apostles, and the Popes and Bishops who are their successors, special powers in using the metaphors of “binding and loosing.”  Christ’s Vicar and the Magisterium exercise power to bind and loose in:

  • The power to forgive sins and to pronounce penance for sins to reconcile sinners to the Church
  • The power to give authoritative teaching and make judgments concerning correct doctrine
  • The power to discipline the congregation of the faithful when some fall into error by imposing or later lifting the ban of excommunication

See CCC 553, 1441-45.

From this event forward, the acknowledgment of Jesus’ divine Sonship will become the confession of apostolic faith revealed by God, first spoken by Peter and the Apostles and disciples, and repeated by the faithful across the world today.  It is on the rock of this faith confessed by Peter that Christ built His Church (CCC 424).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Disciples not to tell anyone Jesus is Messiah

According to the Gospel of St. John, these events took place in the second year of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus warned the disciples not to reveal His true identity. Such a declaration would serve to intensify the enmity of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and it is not yet time for the climax of salvation history’s great drama of the revelation of Jesus’ true identity as the Divine Messiah. However, now that His disciples know His true identity, Jesus began to prepare them for the traumatic events they are destined to experience.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): The relief above the main doorway of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, depicting Christ giving the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to the first Pope, St. Peter.

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 PASTORAL CONNECTION 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

We are servants of the Lord

Pastoral Connection

by Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau

People expect a lot from the local Catholic parish.

Those who do not think positively of the Church will always expect the very worst in everything that we do. There are still some around who believe the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon spoken of in the Book of Revelation. The pope is the Anti-Christ, etc. Other people expect the parish to solve all their problems; to provide for all their needs; to defend their cause in a hostile environment; to win favor for them with an unfriendly God. The Church is supposed to be so mighty and powerful.

Most parishes fall short of all these expectations. We are not the source of all evil; we are not the only source of good.

The Lord Jesus looked to his disciples for support in his life, his identity, and his mission. Peter speaks for the others; he speaks for all of us. “You are the Christ, the Messiah of God.”So, then, Jesus has a title for Peter: “You are Rock upon which I will build my Church. Death itself will have no power over it. God himself will allow in heaven whatever you allow on earth. ”Thus, Jesus gives to Peter (to the leaders of his community) the same mission which he had received from his Father. What a privilege! What a burden!

At the parish level, our responsibility consists in doing the works of Jesus: proclaiming, celebrating, guiding. We have to be willing to go to the cross with Jesus in order to bring new life to those whom we serve. Formerly, as a parish leader, I saw all kinds of expectations of me and of my community on the part of those who are with us and those who are not. The parish at times is expected to be lily white in all virtues, when the fact of the matter is that we too are sinners trying to become saints. People sometimes want the Church to save them from eternal damnation, when all we can do is minister to them so they can claim the salvation which Jesus has already obtained for them.

A servant Church will be made up of servant parishes. We are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our ministries are conducted in all humility before the Lord. There is no room for arrogance or for personal privileges in the assembly of faith. Clergy privileges or the arrogant exercise of power have no place among those who are servants in a servant community.

At times, one gets the impression that some would like to be ordained to the priesthood in order to exercise that power that they think priests have. I am convinced that, once the leadership of the Church and leaders in a parish have been stripped of all signs of power and of control according to worldly standards, God will give us numerous vocations to the priesthood.

ECHOING GOD’S WORD – © 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017); Used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): Pope Francis took part in a Holy Thursday ritual of washing and kissing the feet of male and female youths at a juvenile detention center in Rome in March 2013. (AP photo - New York Daily News)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

Faith Sharing

Questions

Opening Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, you founded our Church to continue your work on earth. Bless our church family and help me to do my part to make our church family a shining light in our world.

Questions

Three sets of questions suitable for individual or group use. Choose one to best fit your purpose and time restraints: Faith Sharing Questions (by Fr. Eamon Tobin), Discussion Questions (by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau), and Scripture Study Questions (by Vince Contreras).

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Faith Sharing Questions

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. In the second reading, Paul speaks about the ‘inscrutable’ and ‘unsearchable’ ways of God. For you, what might be an example of these words?

3. Jesus asks his disciples the question: “Who do you say I am?” How would you answer this question?

4. One could say Peter was the least qualified of Jesus’ disciples to head up the Church. He was uneducated, impulsive, a coward when things got tough. So why do you think Jesus chose him?

5. Most of us reading this Gospel have lived through several papacies. Does one stand out for you? If so, why?

6. It has been said: ‘God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies those he calls.’ Have you seen that work in your life?

7. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. THIBODEAU 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Discussion Questions

1. What nicknames have you been called in your life-time? Have these namesbeen s blessing to you or a curse? Discuss the power that name-calling hason people? Whatkinds of names do we give to our pets? Our sail boats or pickup trucks? (Oh, yes! InMaine,we give names to pickups!)

2. What does it mean to you to call Jesus of Nazareth the Anointed One of God, the Christ? Do you have a sense that Jesus responds and gives you a name which designates your function or your responsibility in his community? What title is the most appropriate for you as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

3. Is it clear to you and to your community that we cannot call Jesus Messiah or Christ without also being willing to follow him to the cross? Do you understand that Jesus was redefining Messiah when he added that the Messiah must suffer and die? No follower of Jesus can be a faithful follower without going all the way with him!

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 VINCE CONTRERAS 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Scripture Study Questions

1. The 1st Reading describes the appointment of new chief steward, or prime minister, in the royal House of David. Why does it make sense that Jesus’ Kingdom would be foreshadowed by (and be the fulfillment of) that of his forerunner, King David?

2.In the context of the 2nd Reading, how might you look upon some of the disasters that have befallen Christianity as potential blessings from the Holy Spirit? For example, how might the Holy Spirit use the secularization of modern American culture as a blessing for the Church rather than as a curse?

3. Why did people think that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah?

4. What was significant about Peter’s confession?

5. How does the Church interpret the insight (verse 17), power (verse 18), and authority (verse 19) given to Peter? What are the “keys to the kingdom”? What do they “bind and loose”?

6. What Greek word translate the Aramaic word Kepha (John 2:41-42)? Why is the change of Peter’s name significant, aside from the meaning of the name itself?

7. When and how did you come to recognize Jesus as “Messiah, the Son of the living God”?

8. In terms of the practical matters of everyday life, how do you answer Jesus’ question to Peter for yourself?

© 2011 Vince Contreras. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Loving God, lead us to a deeper knowledge and understanding of your Son Jesus. We trust that this understanding will lead us to a deeper commitment on our part to continue your work here on earth. Amen.

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 CHURCH FATHERS 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

The Catena Aurea

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas uses:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to show/hide an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary of the Gospels.

Matthew 16:13-19

13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

GLOSS. (non occ.) As soon as the Lord had taken His disciples out of the teaching of the Pharisees, He then suitably proceeds to lay deep the foundations of the Gospel doctrine; and to give this the greater solemnity, it is introduced by the name of the place, When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv.) He adds ‘of Philip,’ to distinguish it from the other Cæsarea, of Strato. And He asks this question in the former place, leading His disciples far out of the way of the Jews, that being set free from all fear, they might say freely what was in their mind.

JEROME. This Philip was the brother of Herod, the tetrarch of Ituræa, and the region of Trachonitis, who gave to the city, which is now called Panæas, the name of Cæsarea in honour of Tiberius Cæsar.

GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) When about to confirm the disciples in the faith, He would first take away from their minds the errors and opinions of others, whence it follows, And he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?

ORIGEN. Christ puts this question to His disciples, that from their answer we may learn that there were at that time among the Jews various opinions concerning Christ; and to the end that we should always investigate what opinion men may form of us; that if any ill be said of us, we may cut off the occasions of it; or if any good, we may multiply the occasions of it.

GLOSS. (non occ.) So by this instance of the Apostles, the followers of the Bishops are instructed, that whatever opinions they may hear out of doors concerning their Bishops, they should tell them to them.

JEROME. Beautifully is the question put, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? For they who speak of the Son of Man, are men: but they who understood His divine nature are called not men but Gods.

CHRYSOSTOM. He says not, Whom do the Scribes and Pharisees say that I am? but, Whom do men say that I am? searching into the minds of the common people, which were not perverted to evil. For though their opinion concerning Christ was much below what it ought to have been, yet it was free from wilful wickedness; but the opinion of the Pharisees concerning Christ was full of much malice.

HILARY. By asking, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? He implied that something ought to be thought respecting Him beyond what appeared, for He was the Son of Man. And in thus enquiring after men’s opinion respecting Himself, we are not to think that He made confession of Himself; for that which He asked for was something concealed, to which the faith of believers ought to extend itself. We must hold that form of confession, that we so mention the Son of God as not to forget the Son of Man, for the one without the other offers us no hope of salvation; and therefore He said emphatically, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?

JEROME. He says not, Whom, do men say that I am? but, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? that He should not seem to ask ostentatiously concerning Himself. Observe, that wherever the Old Testament has ‘Son of Man,’ the phrase in the Hebrew is ‘Son of Adam,’

ORIGEN. Then the disciples recount the divers opinions of the Jews relating to Christ; And they said, Some say John the Baptist, following Herod’s opinion; others Elias, (vid. Matt. 14:2.) supposing either that Elias had gone through a second birth, or that having continued alive in the body, He had at this time appeared; others Jeremias, whom the Lord had ordained to be Prophet among the Gentiles, not understanding that Jeremias was a type of Christ; or one of the Prophets, in a like way, because of those things which God spoke to them through the Prophets, yet they were not fulfilled in them, but in Christ.

JEROME. It was as easy for the multitudes to be wrong in supposing Him to be Elias and Jeremias, as Herod in supposing Him to be John the Baptist; whence I wonder that some interpreters should have sought for the causes of these several errors.

CHRYSOSTOM. The disciples having recounted the opinion of the common people, He then by a second question invites them to higher thoughts concerning Him, and therefore it follows, Jesus saith unto them, Whom say ye that I am? You who are with Me always, and have seen greater miracles than the multitudes, ought not to agree in the opinion of the multitudes. For this reason He did not put this question to them at the commencement of His preaching, but after He had done many signs; then also He spoke many things to them concerning His Deity.

JEROME. Observe how by this connexion of the discourse the Apostles are not styled men but Gods. For when He had said, Whom say ye that the Son of Man is? Ho adds, Whom say ye that I am? as much as to say, They being men think of Me as man, ye who are Gods, whom do you think Me?

RABANUS. He enquires the opinions of His disciples and of those without, not because He was ignorant of them; His disciples He asks, that He may reward with due reward their confession of a right faith, and the opinions of those without He enquires, that having the wrong opinions first set forth, it might be proved that the disciples had received the truth of their confession not from common opinion, but out of the hidden treasure of the Lord’s revelation.

CHRYSOSTOM. When the Lord enquires concerning the opinion of the multitudes, all the disciples answer; but when all the disciples are asked, Peter as the mouth and head1 of the Apostles answers for all, as it follows, Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

ORIGEN. Peter denied that Jesus was any of those things which the Jews supposed, by his confession, Thou art the Christ, which the Jews were ignorant of; but he added what was more, the Son of the living God, (Ezek. 33:11.) who had said by his Prophets, I live, saith the Lord. And therefore was He called the living Lord, but in a more especial manner as being eminent above all that had life; for He alone has immortality, and is the fount of life, wherefore He is rightly called God the Father; for He is life as it were flowing out of a fountain, who said, I am the life. (John 14:6.)

JEROME. He calls Him the living God, in comparison of those gods who are esteemed gods, but are dead; such, I mean, as Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Hercules, and the other monsters of idols.

HILARY. This is the true and unalterable faith, that from God came forth God the Son, who has eternity out of the eternity of the Father. That this God took unto Him a body and was made man is a perfect confession. Thus He embraced all in that He here expresses both His nature and His name, in which is the sum of virtues.

RABANUS. And by a remarkable distinction it was that the Lord Himself puts forward the lowliness of the humanity which He had taken upon Him, while His disciple shews us the excellence of His divine eternity.

HILARY. This confession of Peter met a worthy reward, for that he had seen the Son of God in the man. Whence it follows, Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

JEROME. This return Christ makes to the Apostle for the testimony which Peter had spoken concerning Him, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonas? Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but My Father. That which flesh and blood could not reveal, was revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By his confession then he obtains a title, which should signify that he had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, whose son he shall also be called; for Barjonas in our tongue signifies The son of a dove. Others take it in the simple sense, that Peter is the son of Johnq, according to that question in another place, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? (John 21:15.) affirming that it is an error of the copyists in writing here Barjonas for Barjoannas, dropping one syllable. Now Joanna is interpreted ‘The grace of God.’ But either name has its mystical interpretation; the dove signifies the Holy Spirit; and the grace of God signifies the spiritual gift.

CHRYSOSTOM. It would be without meaning to say, Thou art the son of Jonas, unless he intended to shew that Christ is as naturally the Son of God, as Peter is the son of Jonas, that is, of the same substance as him that begot him.

JEROME. Compare what is here said, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, with the Apostolic declaration, Immediately I was not content with flesh and blood, (Gal. 1:16.) meaning there by this expression the Jews; so that here also the same thing is shewn in different words, that not by the teaching of the Pharisees, but by the grace of God, Christ was revealed to him the Son of God.

HILARY. Otherwise; He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ.

ORIGEN. It must be enquired in this place whether, when they were first sent out, the disciples knew that He was the Christ. For this speech shews that Peter then first confessed Him to be the Son of the living God. And look whether you can solve a question of this sort, by saying that to believe Jesus to be the Christ is less than to know Him; and so suppose that when they were sent to preach they believed that Jesus was the Christ, and afterwards as they made progress they knew Him to be so. Or must we answer thus; That then the Apostles had the beginnings of a knowledge of Christ, and knew some little concerning Him; and that they made progress afterwards in the knowledge of Him, so that they were able to receive the knowledge of Christ revealed by the Father, as Peter, who is here blessed, not only for that he says, Thou art the Christ, but much more for that he adds, the Son of the living God.

CHRYSOSTOM. And truly if Peter had not confessed that Christ was in a peculiar sense born of the Father, there had been no need of revelation; nor would he have been worthy of this blessing for confessing Christ to be one of many adopted sons; for before this they who were with Him in the ship had said, Truly thou art the Son of God. (John 1:49.) Nathanael also said, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God. Yet were not these blessed because they did not confess such sonship as does Peter here, but thought Him one among many, not in the true sense a son; or, if chief above all, yet not the substance of the Father. But see how the Father reveals the Son, and the Son the Father; from none other comes it to confess the Son than of the Father, and from none other to confess the Father than of the Son; so that from this place even it is manifest that the Son is of the same substance, and to be worshipped together with the Father. Christ then proceeds to shew that many would hereafter believe what Peter had now confessed, whence He adds, And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter,

JEROME. As much as to say, You have said to me, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, therefore I say unto thee, not in a mere speech, and that goes not on into operation; but I say unto thee, and for Me to speak is to make it sor, that thou art Peter. For as from Christ proceeded that light to the Apostles, whereby they were called the light of the world, and those other names which were imposed upon them by the Lord, so upon Simon who believed in Christ the Rock, He bestowed the name of Peter (Rock.)

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. ii. 53.) But let none suppose that Peter received that name here; he received it at no other time than where John relates that it was said unto him, Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted, Peter. (John 1:42.)

JEROME. And pursuing the metaphor of the rock, it is rightly said to him as follows: And upon this rock I will build my Church.

CHRYSOSTOM. That is, On this faith and confession I will build my Church. Herein shewing that many should believe what Peter had confessed, and raising his understanding, and making him His shepherd.

AUGUSTINE. (Retract. i. 21.) I have said in a certain place of the Apostle Peter, that it was on him, as on a rock, that the Church was built. But I know that since that I have often explained these words of the Lord, Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church, as meaning upon Him whom Peter had confessed in the words, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God; and so that Peter, taking his name from this rock, would represent the Church, which is built upon this rock. For it is not said to him, Thou art the rock, but, Thou art Peter. (1 Cor. 10:4.) But the rock was Christ, whom because Simon thus confessed, as the whole Church confesses Him, he was named Peter. Let the reader choose whether of these two opinions seems to him the more probable.

HILARY. But in this bestowing of a new name is a happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of that building, which should break up the laws of hell, burst the gates of Tartarus, and all the shackles of death. And to shew the firmness of this Church thus built upon a rock, He adds, And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

GLOSS. (interlin.) That is, shall not separate it from the love and faith of Me.

JEROME. I suppose the gates of hell to mean vice and sin, or at least the doctrines of heretics by which men are ensnared and drawn into hell.

ORIGEN. But in heavenly things every spiritual sin is a gate of hell, to which are opposed the gates of righteousness.

RABANUS. The gates of hell are the torments and promises of the persecutors. Also, the evil works of the unbelievers, and vain conversation, are gates of hell, because they shew the path of destruction.

ORIGEN. He does not express what it is which they shall not prevail against, whether the rock on which He builds the Church, or the Church which He builds on the rock; but it is clear that neither against the rock nor against the Church will the gates of hell prevail.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. According to this promise of the Lord, the Apostolic Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud, above all Heads and Bishops, and Primates of Churches and people, with its own Pontiffs, with most abundant faith, and the authority of Peter. And while other Churches have to blush for the error of some of their members, this reigns alone immoveably established, enforcing silence, and stopping the mouths of all heretics; and wet, not drunken with the wine of pride, confess together with it the type of truth, and of the holy apostolic tradition.

JEROME. Let none think that this is said of death, implying that the Apostles should not be subject to the condition of death, when we see their martyrdoms so illustrious.

ORIGEN. Wherefore if we, by the revelation of our Father who is in heaven, shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, having also our conversation in heaven, to us also shall be said, Thou art Peter; for every one is a Rock who is an imitator of Christ. But against whomsoever the gates of hell prevail, he is neither to be called a rock upon which Christ builds His Church; neither a Church, or part of the Church, which Christ builds upon a rock.

CHRYSOSTOM. Then He speaks of another honour of Peter, when He adds, And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; as much as to say, As the Father hath given thee to know Me, I also will give something unto thee, namely, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

RABANUS. For as with a zeal beyond the others he had confessed the King of heaven, he is deservedly entrusted more than the others with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, that it might be clear to all, that without that confession and faith none ought to enter the kingdom of heaven. By the keys of the kingdom He means discernment1 and power; power, by which he binds and looses, discernment, by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy.

GLOSS. (interlin.) It follows, And whatsoever thou shalt bind; that is, whomsoever thou shalt judge unworthy of forgiveness while he lives, shall be judged unworthy with God; and whatsoever thou shalt loose, that is, whomsoever thou shalt judge worthy to be forgiven while he lives, shall obtain forgiveness of his sins from God.

ORIGEN. See how great power has that rock upon which the Church is built, that its sentences are to continue firm as though God gave sentence by it.

CHRYSOSTOM. See how Christ leads Peter to a high understanding concerning himself. These things that He here promises to give him, belong to God alone, namely to forgive sins, and to make the Church immoveable amidst the storms of so many persecutions and trials.

RABANUS. But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, and is even now in the^ Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. (vid. Matt. 18:18.) But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom.

GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might thereby be invited to unity. For He therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them. But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken. Some say that the words upon earth denote that power was not given to men to bind and loose the dead, but the living; for he who should loose the dead would do this not upon earth, but after the earth.

SECOND COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE. (Concil. Con. ii. Collat. 8.) How is it that some do presume to say that these things are said only of the living? Know they not that the sentence of anathema is nothing else but separation? They are to be avoided who are held of grievous faults, whether they are among the living, or not. For it is always behoveful to fly from the wicked. Moreover there are divers letters read of Augustine of religious memory, who was of great renown among the African bishops, which affirmed that heretics ought to be anathematized even after death. (vid. Aug. Ep. 185. 4.) Such an ecclesiastical tradition other African Bishops also have preserved. And the Holy Roman Church also has anathematized some Bishops after death, although no accusation had been brought against their faith in their lifetimeu.

JEROME. Bishops and Presbyters; not understanding this passage, assume to themselves something of the lofty pretensions of the Pharisees, and suppose that they may either condemn the innocent, or absolve the guilty; whereas what will be enquired into before the Lord will be not the sentence of the Priests, but the life of him that is being judged. We read in Leviticus of the lepers, how they are commanded to shew themselves to the Priests, and if they have the leprosy, then they are made unclean by the Priest; not that the Priest makes them leprous and unclean, but that the Priest has knowledge of what is leprosy and what is not leprosy, and can discern who is clean, and who is unclean. In the same way then as there the Priest makes the leper unclean, here the Bishop or Presbyter binds or looses not those who are without sin, or guilt, but in discharge of his function when he has heard the varieties of their sins, he knows who is to be bound, and who loosed.

ORIGEN. Let him then be without blame who binds or looses another, that he may be found worthy to bind or loose in heaven. Moreover, to him who shall be able by his virtues to shut the gates of hell, are given in reward the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For every kind of virtue when any has begun to practise it, as it were opens itself before Him, the Lord, namely, opening it through His grace, so that the same virtue is found to be both the gate, and the key of the gate. But it may be that each virtue is itself the kingdom of heaven.

16:20–21

20. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

ORIGEN. Seeing Peter had confessed Him to be Christ the Son of the living God, because He would not have them preach this in the mean time, He adds, Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

JEROME. When then above He sends His disciples to preach, and commands them to proclaim His advent, this seems contrary to His command here, that they should not say that He is Jesus the Christ. To me it seems that it is one thing to preach Christ, and another to preach Jesus the Christ. Christ is a common title of dignity, Jesus the proper name of the Saviour.

ORIGEN. Or they then spake of Him in lowly words, as only a great and wonderful man, but as yet proclaimed Him not as the Christ. Yet if any will have it that He was even at the first proclaimed to be Christ, he may say that now He chose that first short announcement of His name to be left in silence and not repeated, that that little which they had heard concerning Christ might be digested into their minds. Or the difficulty may be solved thus: that the former relation concerning their preaching Christ does not belong to the time before His Resurrection, but to the time that should be after the Resurrection; and that the command now given is meant for the time present; for it were of no use to preach Him, and to be silent concerning His cross. Moreover, He commanded them that they should tell no man that He was the Christ, and prepared them that they should afterwards say that He was Christ who was crucified, and who rose again from the dead.

JEROME. But that none should suppose that this is only my explanation, and not an evangelic interpretation, what follows explains the reasons of His forbidding them to preach Him at that time; Then began Jesus to shew unto his disciples that he must needs go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and Scribes, and Chief Priests, and be put to death, and rise again the third day. The meaning is; Then preach Me when I shall have suffered these things, for it will be of no avail that Christ be preached publicly, and His Majesty spread abroad among the people, when after a little time they shall see Him scourged and crucified.

CHRYSOSTOM. For what having once had root has afterwards been torn up, if it is again planted, is with difficulty retained among the multitude; but what having been once rooted has continued ever after unmoved, is easily brought on to a further growth. He therefore dwells on these sorrowful things, and repeats His discourse upon them, that He may open the minds of His disciples.

ORIGEN. And observe that it is not said,’ He began to say,’ or ‘to teach,’ but to shew; for as things are said to be shewn to the sense, so the things which Christ spake are said to be shewn by Him. Nor indeed do I think, that to those who saw Him suffering many things in the flesh, were those things which they saw so shewn as this representation in words shewed to the disciples the mystery of the passion and resurrection of Christ. At that time, indeed, He only began to shew them, and afterwards when they were more able to receive it, He shewed them more fully; for all that Jesus began to do, that He accomplished. He must needs go to Jerusalem, to be put to death indeed in the Jerusalem which is below, but to rise again and reign in the heavenly Jerusalem. But when Christ rose again, and others were risen with Him, they no longer sought the Jerusalem which is beneath, or the house of prayer in it, but that which is above. He suffers many things from the elders of the earthly Jerusalem, that He may be glorified by those heavenly elders who receive His mercies. He rose again from the dead on the third day, that He may deliver from the evil one, and purchase for such as are so delivered this gift, that they be baptized in spirit, soul, and body, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are three days perpetually present to those that through them have been made children of light.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 CATECHISM EXCERPTS 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Menu bar scrolls horizontally

Divinely Instituted Authority

Catechism Excerpts

Homiletic Directory

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.” From the Homiletic Directory

The Keys of the Kingdom

551 From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.280 He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and ‘sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.”281 They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.282

552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”284 Christ, the “living Stone”,285 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.286

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “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.”287 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”288 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles289 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

— READ IN CONTEXT


Foundations of unity: the college of bishop with its head, the successor of Peter

880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”398 Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”399

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.400 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”401 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.”402 “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.”403

883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”404

884 “The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council.”405 But “there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter’s successor.”406

885 “This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head.”407

886 “The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches.”408 As such, they “exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them,”409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.410 The bishops exercise this care first “by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church,” and so contributing “to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches.”411 They extend it especially to the poor,412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.

887 Neighboring particular Churches who share the same culture form ecclesiastical provinces or larger groupings called patriarchates or regions.413 The bishops of these groupings can meet in synods or provincial councils. “In a like fashion, the episcopal conferences at the present time are in a position to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegiate spirit.”414

— READ IN CONTEXT


Share this page: