This week’s readings should make every Catholic stand up proud. They have to do with authority. When my own children were teenagers and learning to drive (Oy Vey)! I would give them the keys to the car and tell them that no one else is to drive this car. I put them in charge and handed on my authority to them over the vehicle. I trusted that they were responsible enough to handle this task.
Today’s readings have to do with authority being handed down. In the Church this is known as apostolic authority or succession since it was handed down from Jesus to Peter and through the apostles. St. Paul reminds us that God’s commandments can be summed up in “love your neighbor as yourself”. God’s wisdom is beyond anything we can fathom. Finally, our blessed Lord Jesus handed over His authority to Peter and gives him the keys of the kingdom. This is why Peter is our first Pope which means Papa. It is Peter who will now have the authority to be Papa over the new Church. Jesus even changes His name to Peter which means “rock”. The office of “Peter” and the “keys of the Kingdom” have been passed down all the way to our current Pope Francis. This is so cool! We can trace our Church all the way back to Peter and ultimately to Jesus. No other Christian denomination can do that. We have an unbroken line of 266 Popes all the way back to Peter. Think about that for a minute. We know who was Pope in the year 100, or 250, or 480, or even 2014. This was one of the reasons I became a Catholic. If I was going to be a Christian, I wanted to belong to the Church Christ started. Not some church that was started 500 years ago or 100 years ago or by some enthusiastic Bible school graduate who hired a band and rented a warehouse. I wanted the real deal! That is what the Catholic Church is. The authority and Keys of the kingdom have been passed down in an unbroken line for over 2000 years. Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven…No other Church can claim that nor do they have the authority or keys to do so no matter how well meaning they may be.
The Catholic Church is the Church Jesus Christ started and we can prove it through succession. Others cannot. So, this week take some time to think about authority, keys and the glorious Church that you are a part of. Try to resolve differences with others. You are part of the one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and do not be ashamed to say with gusto, “I am a Catholic and proud of it”! Maybe invite someone to Mass with you. Something to think on, and may God richly bless you always!