When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
«You are the Christ, the Son of the living God»
Mons. Jaume PUJOL i Balcells,
Archbishop Emerit of Tarragona(Tarragona, Spain)
Today we celebrate the solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, who were basic for the early Church and, therefore, for our Christian faith. Apostles of the Lord, witnesses of the first hour, they lived those initial moments of expansion of the Church and sealed with their blood their loyalty to Jesus. If only we, Christians of the 21st century, also know how to be reliable witnesses of the love of God in the midst of men, as these two Apostles were, along with so many others of our fellow citizens.
In one of his first interventions addressing the Cardinals, Pope Francis told them that we must 'walk, build and confess'. That is, we must move forward in our way of life, by building up our Church and by giving testimony of the Lord. But the Pope warned: "We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord.”
We have heard in the Mass Gospel a central fact for the life of Peter and the Church. Jesus asks that fisherman of Galilee an act of faith in his divine status and Peter does not hesitate to say: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16). Jesus institutes the Primacy immediately by telling Peter that he will be the firm rock upon which the Church, throughout the ages, will be built (cf. Mt 16:18) and by giving him the power of the keys of the Kingdom, the Supreme authority.
Although Peter and his successors are assisted by the force of the Holy Spirit, they still need our prayers, because their mission is of great significance for the life of the Church: they must be a strong foundation for all Christians throughout the ages; we must, therefore, also pray, every day, for the Holy Father, for his person and for his intentions.