21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Gospel – Matthew 16:13-20
Simon makes his profession of faith, and Jesus names him the “rock” upon whom He will build His Church
“After Simon said who Jesus is, Jesus said who Simon is, according to His own plan for building the Church.”
So St. John Paul II summarized Sunday’s Gospel, in which Simon professes his faith in Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus gives him a new name – Kephas, translated as Peter, the “rock” – to signify his “new mission” as the foundation of the Church.
The declaration is indeed solemn: ‘I say to you.’ It involves Jesus’ sovereign authority. It is a word of revelation, of effective revelation in that it accomplishes what it says.
…[B]y giving him a new name, Jesus made Simon Peter a sharer in His own capacity as foundation.
…Jesus in fact said “my Church.” This means that the Church will always be the Church of Christ, the Church which belongs to Christ. She does not become Peter’s Church. However, as the Church of Christ she is built on Peter, who is Kephas in the name and by the power of Christ.
“Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter,” as the Catechism teaches:
The ‘power of the keys’ designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church…The power to ‘bind and loose’ connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom He specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.
This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope [the successor of St. Peter].
Benedict XVI emphasized that the heart of this “new commission…is the grace of forgiveness.”
The Church is founded upon forgiveness…Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as mercy and thus as the foundation stone of the Church.
–Called to Communion, p. 64.
Question for reflection: In what ways do I recognize Jesus as the Lord of my life?