Entrusting the keys of the kingdomSunday Readings
Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013 (3EasterC)
By Father Cusick
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Lecturas y Comentarios
New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:19.) The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my sheep." (Jn 21:15-17; cf. 10:11.) The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Cf. Mt 18:18.) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom. (CCC 553)
This authority, given to Peter, was to be handed on through the "apostolic succession".
In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them 'their own position of teaching authority.' " (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum (DV) 7 art. 2; St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 3, 1: PG 7, 848; Harvey, 2, 9.) Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (DV 8, art. 1.) (CCC 77)
In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore,...the apostles took care to appoint successors." (LG 20; cf. Mt 28:20.) (CCC 860)
Our Holy Father, the bishop of Rome, and all of the bishops in union with him, are the duly-appointed successors of the apostles.
"In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry." (LG 20; cf. Acts 20:28; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42, 44: PG 1, 291-300.) (CCC 861)
This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes." (DV 8 art. 1.) "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer." (DV 8, art. 3.) (CCC 78)
The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: "God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And in the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church -- and through her in the world -- leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness." (DV 8 art. 3; cf. Col 3:16.) (CCC 79)
Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also nos. 448, 553, 618, 645, 659, 862, 881, 1166, 1429, 1551 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)