Saint Peter was the head of the apostles. How do we know this? From the tradition and from today's Gospel (Matt 16:13-20). When Peter correctly answers that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord responds to him: “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.”
Peter was the first Pope; the first leader of Christ' mystical Body, the Catholic Church. There is context for this; context for the group of God's faithful to have a leader. The first reading provides that context. God makes Eliakim the prince of the Israelites. “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” (Is 22:21-22).
Do you notice the parallel between Jesus's words to Peter and God's words about Eliakim? To those who would say the office of the pope was not part of God's will, I'd say check again!
I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be Pope. It's hard to be pastor of St. Juliana with over 2500 souls. It's even harder to be pastor of the Archdiocese of Chicago with over 2 million souls. Pope Francis is pastor of the universal Church with over 1 billion souls! It is an almost impossible role, but necessary nonetheless. The office of the pope is part of God's wise plan, which, St. Paul says in our second reading, is deep and rich and inscrutable and unsearchable (cf. Rom 11:33-36).
So perhaps, inspired by the readings this weekend, we might free up a moment of our day to say an extra prayer for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He is ensuring the gates of the netherworld are not prevailing against us—not an easy assignment.
A reminder, now that school has begun, that the Friday 8:30am Mass will be over in the church, as this will now be the daily Mass our students attend. The Wednesday 8:30am Mass will remain in the chapel.
High school fall athletics are underway! All the best to the young men and women from our parish who are playing football, basketball, cross country, soccer and other sports. I look forward to celebrating Mass occasionally for the Notre Dame football program, as well as attending games at the various other schools. Most importantly, go St. Juliana Trojans!
Godspeed to our young adults returning to college. We will be praying for you and look forward to seeing you back around the holidays. Study well!
Thank you for your generous support of the Trinity Dome second collection. Your participation will help complete the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, America’s Catholic Church. More information on this project can be found at trinitydome.org.
Yours in Christ,