Gospel reflection 8.8.19
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.” Matthew 16:18-19
Jesus was making Peter a promise that would one day come to fulfillment. Jesus was telling Peter that he would become the rock foundation of the Church and that Peter would enjoy a unique spiritual power of the Keys of Heaven. What an incredible gift that was!
Jesus says, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven…” This is no small gift to have. We should take this as a literal commitment from Jesus to Peter. So, when Jesus did found His Church, when He did “breathe” on the Apostles after His Resurrection, He also bestowed this promised gift of supreme authority within his Church to Peter – the power to bind and loose. This gift passes down to each successor of Peter in the form of our Pope.
Therefore, when you are told:- where in the Bible would you find that or shor that’s church law and has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. Remember this most important promise from Jesus to Peter “whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven….”.
We have seen how Peter denied Jesus three times. We see his weakness. We see that he is human and like all of us, a sinner too. Notwithstanding, Jesus chose him for the good man that he was, to lead his Church. Our pope today, like our bishops and Priests are men. They too are sinners, like all of us. We must remember however that like Peter, Jesus choose them. He sees much deeper than we can see and is not overcome by the superficials that we are sometimes guided by. We must pray regularly for them. They need our prayers. They are accountable to the Lord, in a much greater way than any of us lay people. It is for the Lord to Judge them, in an eternal way and he will do so.
Peter eventually went to Rome to preach and to become the first bishop there. It is in Rome that he died and it was every successor of the Apostle Peter, in Rome, who took on this unique gift of the supreme authority within the Church. Certainly Jesus did not intend this gift of supreme authority to last only as long as Peter lived. That’s why we see this authority passed on to all his successors who are the bishops of Rome. And that’s why we call our Church the Roman Catholic Church. So the Church is Roman primarily because that’s where Peter went and, therefore, that’s where the supreme authority lies.
Over the centuries we have come to understand this unique gift of supreme authority and have defined it more clearly. It means that St. Peter, and all his successors, enjoy full and immediate authority to teach definitively on faith and morals and to govern, or shepherd, according to the mind and will of Christ. So if the pope says something is true regarding faith or morals then, quite frankly, it is true. And if he makes a decision on the governance of the Church then, quite simply, that’s what God wants done. It’s as simple as that.
This gift of supreme authority, in regard to teaching on faith and morals, is called “infallibility.” It’s used in various ways. The most powerful way it’s used is when the pope speaks “ex cathedra” or, “from the chair.” This means symbolically from the chair of Peter. In this case he teaches what’s called a “dogma” of the faith. Every dogma is true and certain and we are bound in faith to believe. For example, in 1950 the pope spoke “ex cathedra” about the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. With that declaration we are bound in conscience to believe. Mary truly was taken body and soul into Heaven upon the completion of her earthly life. Period!
Of course this power does not apply to those things that have nothing to do with faith and morals. So if the pope says he believes that Argentina will win the next World Cup, then he is only hoping, and I wouldn’t go bet all your money on them. He has no special grace to teach things of that nature. But wouldn’t it be fun if he did!
Lord, I thank You for the gift of Your glorious Catholic Church! I pray that I may always be faithful to all that You reveal through Your Church and I pray that the leaders of Your Church, especially the pope, will always seek to grow daily in holiness of life. Jesus, I trust in You.