The Keys to the Kingdom

Matthew 16: 13-23
Jer 31: 31-34 / Ps 51: 12-15. 18-19

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 using the keys to His kingdom:
The Word of God as our ministry,
With His authority and wisdom.

When Jesus came 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; and others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 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.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16: 13-23)

Reflection

Jesus entrusted to St. Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” as the symbol of the Church’s authority and wisdom. 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 abides in all their undertakings for His kingdom. That is why they can speak with authority because He imbues them with His wisdom.

“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.

It is a special privilege to share in the work of God’s ministers, — our bishops and priests– whose authority emanates directly from God. We never lose anything when we serve in the Lord’s vineyard, whether as speaker, discussion leader, prayer intercessor, or servant. In fact, it is always to our benefit. In preparing a talk, personal testimony, or writing these Gospel reflections, the Holy Spirit gives insights which I consider gifts of wisdom, revealed by Divine Providence Himself! In a smaller way, we can feel like St. Peter, who was so privileged to receive the “keys of heaven.” And when the article is finished or the talk delivered, we can 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 mission of spreading God’s Word, (speaker, sharer, or writer), 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 Holy Spirit in spreading the Good News of salvation.

Thank You, Lord for the assurance of Your kingdom that we receive through our pope, bishops and priests; and for the precious opportunity of sharing in their work. Amen.

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