"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."(Matthew 16:13-19)
"In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course." (Saint Boniface)
The Cross contains everything that we need to understand the human condition and to make sense of faith and suffering. It is through this avenue, and by no other that we can also better navigate what it means to follow and serve Christ within His Church, built upon the rock of St. Peter.
Jesus promised in today's Gospel that the netherworld would not prevail against His Church. This is consoling and also calls into question the reality of our own faith and to whom we give our obedience and following.
As life's difficulties beat against the Church there is great whiplash felt throughout. As times seem to veer progressively away from the teachings of the Church and what it is She stands for, people are perhaps more inclined to jump ship rather than stay aboard and further seek a means to keeping afloat and on course.
Understandably, there are numerous reasons why one may decide to do so. Perhaps it is a result of questions being poorly answered, or unanswered, perhaps it is ignorance to what the Catholic Church truly stands for, or rather Whose Church it is.
Revisiting this Gospel is humbling and at the same time inviting of a faith in Jesus Christ alone, despite what one may perceive, fear, or see the Church becoming. We are reminded to Whom it most belongs and in this is every assurance of truth. We aid in keeping the Church on course by remaining present at this moment shared in today's Gospel and obedient to the role that has been given us in faith. It is not a finite moment , it is not an empty phrase to do away with, It is an establishment of a promise , that we must take time to bear witness to, so that we can then increase our sense of the modern day challenges surrounding, and even greet them with the freshness of faith that Jesus's first disciples had.
From this fresh encounter is the means for living in the promise of Jesus for His Church. The implications that this has in all of our lives, and especially in those Holy men appointed to higher roles of leadership within the Church becomes more apparent through our own own humble obedience and daily surrender to follow Jesus, despite the poundings of criticism and counter Christ ways from our culture.
If the ship is abandoned at the sight of any difficulty then we can be assured that our faith is not in Jesus Christ, nor is it really faith at all. Difficulty invites a renewal of understanding and trust in the Lord. We can affirm faith in the face of challenge, we can pray for the clarity in our own lives., and beg to have the courage to persevere.
In many ways from the most subtle to the most alarmingly significant we can each play a role in helping to keep the Church on Her course, by remaining on course ourselves. Not so that we desire a following, or to be held up as an icon of some esteemed example. But so that we remain in the embrace of our Lord and seek to glorify Him in all that we do by the simplicity of faith that we live.
In the face of scandal, in the face of "fake church news" and through encountering challenges with doctrine/dogma and perhaps even some Papal decisions it is well that we are reminded of Jesus' promise and to continually entrust ourselves to God.
The primacy of our faith and our belief in the Church must stem from our belief in Jesus Christ. As if He were before us everyday asking "But who do you say that I am?" If our answer professes that He is the Son of God, then all things necessary for embracing the Rock of our faith become possible. (CC)
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. (Romans 11: 33-36)