Ps 138:1-3, 6, 8
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
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 Christ, 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.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Good News Reflection:
When Jesus ordained Peter to become the rock upon which he would build his Church, he made a promise. The gates of hell, he said, speaking of the netherworld that belongs to the principalities and powers of darkness (see Ephesians 6), “shall never prevail against it.”
Jesus did not say that hell would never win battles against the Church. He said that the gates of hell would not win. Of course they won’t: Gates don’t attack! Gates protect. Gates hold inside their boundaries whatever has been enclosed by a fence or wall. Do you know anyone who’s been imprisoned by their sins? Or by hellish circumstances?
Christians are not called to take a defensive posture against attacks and encroachments from evil-doers. Christians are called to take the offensive — we are called to attack the very gates of hell, knock them down, and conquer the devils that are trying to drag people into their kingdom of misery and eternal death.
What Jesus did 2000 years ago to free people from evil he still does today through you and me.
For the sinners who want to escape from evil before it’s too late, Jesus gave gate keys to Peter when he ordained him as the first shepherd (priest and pope) of Christianity. These keys have been passed from generation to generation through the unbroken line of Catholic priests.
What are the keys? The gates of hell are unlocked by Sacraments; they open the way to eternal life. When a priest “looses” (releases) the grace and forgiveness of God upon a repentant sinner during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or when a priest “binds” a man and woman together in the Sacrament of Marriage, it’s Jesus who’s doing it through him.
The supernatural power of the Sacraments conquers evil every time we take them seriously and rely on the graces they provide.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
Where is there a locked gate in your life, which needs to get blown open so that Jesus can rescue you from some sort of darkness? What will you do this week to utilize the Sacraments more deeply, more profoundly?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Who do you say Jesus really is, and how do you encounter this Jesus in the Sacraments? Which Sacrament (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Marriage, Ordination, or the Anointing of the Sick) is most powerful for you personally? Why?
Thank you, Lord, that through Your Holy Spirit I am able to recognize You. Give me the strength I need to carry out the mission that You have entrusted to me. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica