“So I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

In today’s passage (Mt 16:13-23), Jesus famously asks His disciples: Who do people say that I am?  After receiving several different answers He asks them who they say He is.  Simon answers that He is the Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus says that this correct answer came to Simon from the Father.  He then renames Simon Peter (“Rock”) and that His Church will be built upon him.  Hell will not prevail against it and the power of binding and loosing sins will be with it.  Finally, Jesus tells them to tell no one that He is the Messiah.  But from that point He does let them know what is in store for Him in Jerusalem.  When Peter rebukes Him for this kind of talk, Jesus calls him Satan for attempting to interfere with the work of God.  We are fortunate to have this interchange given to us in scripture.  Peter is entrusted with the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  He gets to be the first leader of the visible church that Jesus unmistakeably establishes.  So Peter, being given the keys, must pass them to a successor, who passes them on, and so on.  Jesus promises us that He will be “with [us] always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).  This is ensured through the establishment of the Church, the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:27-28), which gives us the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  Indefectibly holy as a divine institution, we should not be discouraged if the Church’s human caretakers do not always live up to the ideal.  Even the first vicar, Peter, was soon after this episode called Satan by Jesus.  The Lord is aware of the failings of humans — He died for them.  Yet He is always with us.  We must never denigrate the Church or its faithful, if fallen, bishops, priests, and members.  Rather, we are to work to build it up through prayer, example, and the sharing of our talents.

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