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Why the Church is Indestructible

22nd Sunday in OT


‘But (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” ’

Matthew 16:22

Dear Family in Christ,

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we witnessed St. Peter’s great confession of Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of God.” Consequently, Jesus entrusted him with the ‘Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’, gave him authority to ‘bind and loose’, making him the ‘rock’ upon which He built His Church. This Sunday, we witness the unexpected continuation of this conversation; Peter, fresh off the greatest promotion of his earthly life, tries to rebuke Jesus. This (of course) backfires, and Peter ends up on the receiving end of the harshest conceivable rebuke from the lips of Jesus: “Get behind me, Satan!”

From that day forward, the Holy Spirit has guided the Church established by Jesus through the sacred office occupied by the St. Peter and his ~265 successors. Many have been saints; some have given their lives in defense of the faith, and some have caused scandal, but every single one has been a mere man chosen by God (and elected by the college of Cardinals). This continues to be one of the great mysteries of our faith, confounding all human wisdom and proving yet again that God’s ways are not, in fact, our ways.

‘When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward- in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.

-G.K. Chesterton(1874-1936), Heretics

This Sunday, let us pray in a particular way for the Church under the care of our Holy Father, Pope Francis. May he, as the successor of St. Peter, continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit and know of our love and support as he fulfills his sacred office.

God love you,

Father Daniel

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