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(Part 10)


February 22, 2013
Today’s gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

The fight of this third millennium is the fight between the culture of death and the culture of life. Ultimately it is a fight between Satan and God. This fight has raged since creation, and will continue to rage until the Lord returns once again in glory.

The frontline forces in this war are formidable. On the side of Satan are the US government under Obama, the European Union, the United Nations, billionaire philanthropists, international liberal media, and a host of other diabolical forces. On the side of God is the holy Roman Catholic Church, the only strong institution standing against the culture of death.

Now we already know who is the victor. By the death and resurrection of Jesus, he already crushed the head of the serpent. But the serpent’s thrashing tail is still able to afflict many. Jesus will come again in glory at the end of time. In the meantime, we are in for a bruising war.

Jesus established his church, which is his body on earth. He appointed Peter as the first head of the church. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:18a). Peter was the first pope. There has been a continuous succession of popes through two millennia, with the current 265th pope, Benedict XVI. With Pope Benedict XVI resigning effective end of this month, there is again some apprehension. What is to happen to the Church?

We have the very assurances of Jesus that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18b). No matter how dark the world seems to be, no matter how dominant the culture of death is, no matter how powerful Satan’s diabolical forces are, no matter how overwhelmingly the tsunami of evil is assaulting the whose world, they cannot prevail against the Church. In fact, though it seems as if pro-life forces are often on the defensive, the Church is actually on the offensive. We assault the dominion of the enemy. Gates are stationary, intended for defense. The Church assaults the gates of the netherworld, which shall not prevail.

As to the pope, the overall leader of the holy Roman Catholic Church, he is Peter. He has been given “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16:19a). The pope provides the access, and so it is basically only through the Catholic Church where one can enter heaven.

Further, the pope has been given authority direct from Jesus himself. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19). Jesus has delegated his power over his church to the pope.

Are we not greatly consoled and energized by these profound realities? Our Roman Catholic Church is the very body of Christ on earth, built on the rock that is the pope. The authority of our human head (the pope) is the very authority of Christ, who remains the true head of the Church. Our enemy will not prevail against us.

So we look forward to the Conclave of Cardinals that will elect the new pope. We do so with excitement and anticipation. We know the true head of our Church to be Jesus. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16). We know the human head of our Church to be the pope. In this Year of Faith, we believe what Jesus told Peter: “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” (Mt 16:17b).

Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to touch the minds and hearts of the cardinal-electors. Let it be Jesus who will truly appoint his next representative on earth.

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