Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Keys to the Kingdom

By Peter Paul Rubens

Scripture scholar Steve Ray of www.catholicconvert.com explains the meaning of today’s Gospel:

“From the obscure fishing village of Capernaum on the shores of Galilee, Simon son of John rose to great prominence in the early Church… Jesus bestowed special prerogatives on Peter, recounted in Matthew 16:13-20. Peter is given a new name, which in Scripture denotes a change in status or position (e.g., Gen 17:4-5). Jesus spoke Aramaic and gave Simon the Aramaic name Kepha (Rock) which is is “Petra” in Greek and “Peter” in English… Jesus is the builder and Peter is the rock foundation.

Jesus chose Caesarea Philippi as the backdrop for the Petrine appointment. Here Herod had built a temple to Caesar Augustus atop the massive rock, a center of pagan worship and a source of the Jordan River. At the rock base was a gaping cavern referred to by the pagans as the “gates of hell”. Standing before the “temple” built to the “divine Caesar”, Jesus revealed God’s plan to build his new “temple”, the Church, to the true God with Peter as the solid rock.

… Jesus promises to give Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”-a reference to the steward’s keys in Isaiah 22… Keys represent exclusive dominion and this authority was granted to Peter alone. The office of royal steward was successive in Israel… the Jews certainly understand that the office of Peter would be filled by successors as was the royal steward’s office in Judah. The steward may die, but the office continues.

As the steward of Christ’s kingdom, Peter is given the authority to bind and loose… scholar M. Vincent explains, “No other terms were in more constant use in Rabbinic canon-law than those of binding and loosing. They represented the legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbinic office. These powers Christ now transferred . . . in their reality, to his apostles; the first, here to Peter.”

 
 
 

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