The Keys to the Kingdom

Matthew 16:13-19
Acts 12:1-11 / Ps 34:2-9 / 2 Tm 4:6-8.17-18

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)

Thank God for the opportunity
Of being stewards for His kingdom;
The Word of God as our ministry,
With His authority and wisdom.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesaria 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 Messiah, 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.” (Matthew 16:13-19)

Reflection

Jesus entrusted to St. Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” as the symbol of the Church’s authority and doctrinal infallibility. All authority and wisdom come from God. They are the fruit of faith. God has given them for a divine purpose. The few who are called to serve are given the tools for the harvest. God never leaves them on their own. His Spirit always guides all their undertakings for His kingdom. That is why they can speak with authority because He imbues them with His wisdom.

It is a sacred privilege to share in the work of the Lord’s ministers, our bishops and priests, whose authority emanates directly from God. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” This passage is a strong admonition for them to safeguard all the spiritual graces that Jesus has entrusted to them in the ministry of the sacraments. How fortunate we are to have the Lord’s ministers to provide us what we need for our spiritual benefit – practically for free. It should only be natural for us to accord the reverence due them as God’s holy ministers.

We never lose anything when we serve in the Lord’s vineyard, whether as speaker, discussion leader, prayer intercessor, or servant. In fact, we gain more. In preparing a talk, personal testimony, or writing these Gospel reflections, the Holy Spirit gives insights which are gifts of wisdom! In a small way, we should feel like St. Peter, whenever we are privileged to receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit. And when we have delivered a talk, we can also feel like St. Paul who “has fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Tim.4:7) “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed.” (2Tim.4:17)

To everyone involved in the ministry of the Word, the work is the reward itself because the manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s gifts are such precious influences. We believe our Lord’s words that “flesh and blood has not revealed (these to us), but (our) heavenly Father.” (Mt.16:17) What a joy it is to know that like the disciples of Jesus, we too are being sent by the Lord in spreading the Good News of salvation.

Thank You, Lord for the assurance of Your kingdom that we have received from Sts. Peter and Paul, whom we honor today, through our pope, bishops and priests. Thank You also for the precious opportunity of sharing in their work. Amen.

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