Where Peter is...there is the Church!

08-27-2023Pastor's LetterVery Rev. Richard C. Wilson, VF, Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

In our Gospel for today, Jesus is in the district of Caesarea Philippi. At Caesarea Philippi there is a massive wall of rock that is well over 100 feet straight up and about 500 feet wide. The city of Caesarea Philippi was built on top of this enormous rock. This is the setting or the backdrop for this critical exchange between Peter and our Lord.

So in the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13b-16)

After this our Lord responds saying that his Father in heaven has revealed this to Peter and then he tells Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

As you may know, Jesus spoke Aramaic in his customary speech. So, what he would have said would have been, “you are Kepha and upon this Kepha, I will build my church.” In the scriptures, when a person’s name is changed it’s a very significant event! Some examples include Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel.

Jesus is naming Peter to lead His church on earth. He will be the one to lead the church and build it on a solid foundation. The responsibilities and attributes entrusted to Peter can be represented by three symbols: “rock”, “keys”, and “to bind and to loose.”

Rock: Peter and his successors are the rock that guarantees the stability of the Church. “You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.”

Keys: He who holds the keys of a house or city has the responsibility of protecting it. With regard to the Pope, these are powers of administration and government in the spiritual realm. Peter and the Popes that followed him are the guardians of the faith and customs of the Church. The keys symbolize the authority of “binding and loosing” the Pope has been given.

To bind and to loose: These words are legal language that ordinarily designates what is permitted or prohibited. In Church language however, it means the capacity of discerning to distinguish what is the will of God from what is not. It is not a power of domination but of service to the community.

Our Lord has not left us as orphans! He has provided the Barque of St. Peter to take us to the Father’s Kingdom!

All the best…in Christ,

Father Wilson