On the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle, which is celebrated on February 22, we are reminded of these very intriguing words Christ addressed to Peter after Peter rightly identified Christ as “the son of the living God”—”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.” (cfr. Mt 16,13-19)
It’s intriguing because the keys or the power given to Peter are definitely way beyond what Peter, given the way he was, could handle properly, let alone deserve. He denied Christ three times before he repented, he was scolded by Christ for not understanding the mysterious designs of God in spite of his closeness to Christ, etc.
And yet, such tremendous power was given to him that what he would bind on earth would also be bound in heaven, what he would loose on earth would also be loosed in heaven. This episode definitely tells us that the ways of God are beyond whatever human merit we may have. In this particular case of St. Peter, Christ told him after he identified Christ rightly that he was blessed because “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
We have to learn to live with this condition in our life. The will and ways of God will always have the last say irrespective of whether we deserve them or not, or whether we are capable of following them or not. Again in this regard, we are reminded of the mysterious supernatural ways God works among us, ways that can defy our human ways and understanding, not in the sense that God’s ways contradict ours, but rather in the sense that they go beyond our ways.
We should just be humble enough to accept and to live along this fact of life that will always involve supernatural realities. We are not expected to understand everything. What we are expected is to obey with the obedience of faith, hope and charity as shown to us by Christ himself, who obeyed till death in obedience to the will the Father.
“The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (Jn 5,19) These words of Christ should constitute as the attitude we ought to have toward everything that happens in our life. Only with this attitude can we get a good idea of why the supernatural designs of God can be carried out by us, given our limitations, not to mention, our mistakes and sins.
The keys to heaven that were given to Peter can be referred to now as the Magisterium of the Church which is the official teaching office of the Church that includes the Pope and the bishops in union with him. Its task is to interpret Scripture and making judgments on “tradition” within the Church, making official statements as to the authenticity of such traditions.
This truth of faith about the Church and the Pope and the bishops behooves us to develop a great love for them, approximating the very love God has for the Church as shown and lived by Christ himself.
This is a duty that we should not take for granted. Everyday we have to see to it that our love the Church, the Pope and bishops enjoys some growth.*