"...I will show you the way to heaven."-St. John-Marie Vianney

Saturday, August 20, 2011

God's Eternal Promise

"He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim's shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open."
In the first reading from tomorrow's Mass we have some familiar readings. This passage from the Old testament gives us the appointing of Eliakim as the Prime Minister of the kingdom of Israel. The former master of the palace, Shebna, was told by the LORD, 
 "I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority."

Fast forwarding to the Gospel we read this,

 "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."

The similarities are striking. We have Jesus, the Son of David, who is to be greeted by the formal royal welcome of "Hosanna" the week before his death, blessing Simon,  and bestowing upon him a new name and a new responsibility. Peter, the Rock, on which Jesus shall build the Catholic Church, is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and with those keys, the power to bind and loose. Whatever Peter, binds or looses on earth will be bound or loosed in Heaven. This awesome responsibility does not bring with it the most prestigious of titles. The office does not promise wealth or prosperity. Peter is not promised that he will be the holiest man to walk the earth; in fact one chapter later, Peter will be rebuked by Christ for not seeing the will of God. No, this office brings with it possibly the noblest of all titles and the most difficult of all trials. Fatherhood.

As Elaikim was to be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so too is Peter, our first Pope( from the Latin for Papa) was given to us to be our father. The robe, sash and authority of the Chief Priests and high Priests of the temple were taken from them and given to Peter to be a father to us. And to this very day, 265 men later, the Fatherhood of God is still physically present to us in the Vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter.

Our response today in the psalm fits this theme perfectly,
"Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands"
God's love is eternal, and He has left us a physical sign of His authority and wisdom. Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans(John 14:18) and indeed He has not. It is no small miracle that for 2000 years, 265 ordinary men made Popes have never taught anything contrary to the teachings of the Gospel. The deposit of the faith has been kept safe as promised by the Spirit of Truth. The work of the hands of God which is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, has not been forsaken. God's love is eternal and His love is the heart of our Church. Therefore the Church as promised by Christ Himself, shall never fall to the gates of hell. On the contrary, the gates of hell shall be destroyed by the power of the love of God, made manifest in this world through the Church.

I am convinced that not even Peter himself could have imagined the graces and miracles we would see. 12 ordinary men, one extraordinary call: Make disciples of all nations. And so here we are my fellow disciples. Let us accept that same call now and bring the love of God and His Church to all peoples.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.


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