Daily Gospel Reflection – Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Bishop Robert Barron
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Gospel: Mt 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that the gates of hell ("the netherworld") shall not prevail against his Church. And Jesus insists that this society, grounded in Peter’s confession, would constitute an army so powerful that not even the fortified capital of the dark kingdom itself could withstand it.
It is fascinating to me how often we construe this saying of Jesus in precisely the opposite direction, as though the Church is guaranteed safety against the onslaughts of hell. In point of fact, Jesus is suggesting a much more aggressive image: his Church will lay successful siege upon the kingdom of evil, knocking down its gate and breaching its walls.
And notice, too, how Jesus uses the future tense—"I will build my Church." Therefore he cannot be speaking simply of Peter personally but of all those who would participate in his charism throughout the centuries.
The integrity of this ekklesia will be guaranteed up and down the centuries—not through appeal to popular opinion (as instructive as that might be) nor through the ministrations of an institutional or theological elite (as necessary as those might be) but rather through the pope’s charismatic knowledge of who Jesus is.