Saturday, August 20, 2011

Homily: The Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven




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."

This week over one million people gathered from all over the world came together to listen to, pray with, and be inspired by the Pope.  What is it about this figure that would draw more people than any rock concert, any sporting event, or any flash mob combined?  He holds the keys. 
One of the first things that happened when I got to my new parish, St. Joseph in Amherst, was the pastor handing me a set of keys.  With these keys I have access to everything at the parish.  I can get into the school, into the offices, into the church, into the gym, into the social hall, into the rectory.  I have open access with these keys. To be honest it’s a great responsibility which requires a great deal of trust in me. 
I’ve also realized very quickly what happens when I forget them!  Let me tell you there’s nothing more embarrassing then having to ring the doorbell and wake up “the pastor” at 11pm because I forgot my keys.  Without my keys I can’t get in to anything.  I’m locked out of the church, the offices, the rectory, my truck. 
For you teens, think about the great responsibility it is when your parents first hand you the keys to the car.  They are entrusting you with not only a car, but your life and others. 
Have you ever lost your keys?  Have you ever locked them in your car?  Think of how lost we are without our keys.  So much more with the kingdom of heaven.  That is why Jesus gave to Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 
So what draws over one million people to World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain?  They know the feeling of finding someone who has the keys.  They, like us, believe that the Holy Father, our Pope has been given this great privilege and responsibility of overseeing our church, binding what needs to be bound and loosing what needs to be loosed. 
And just as peter wasn’t perfect, (remember he denied Jesus three times, fell asleep in the garden, and didn’t make it more than a couple steps walking on water)… He was the only one to walk on water when Jesus commanded him, he was the first to enter the empty tomb, the first to preach, the first to work a miracle, the first to heal and cure, and the one to whom Jesus would entrust with His Church.  Peter was able to do the things that Jesus promised to those who believe.  So despite his weaknesses God’s grace worked so abundantly through this “Rock”. 
Some people criticize the Catholic Church.  One of the biggest criticisms tends to be Papal Authority.  “Why do we have to have a pope?  Why do we have to listen to the Pope?”  Some of our Protestant friends see this as such a negative aspect of our faith.  The truth is however, having a Pope is not a detriment, having a Pope is actually a great blessing. 
We have someone who holds the keys!  He is in fact given the ability to bind and loose.  It is a great and serious responsibility.  Imagine how much trust God must place in this man that he is willing to give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 
Because it is so grave and serious, at every mass we always begin the Intercessions by praying for our Pope, our church and its leaders, and in Every Eucharistic Prayer the Pope is prayed for by name… “We pray for Benedict our Pope, for Richard our Bishop, and for all the Clergy.” 
We have access to the kingdom of heaven right here in our world because Jesus continues to trust our Pope with the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  And we have been blessed for over two thousand years to have someone to Shepherd our church.  Though not perfect, the Holy Spirit continues to work... the Rock; our church has remained and will remain because of the gift of the Papacy. 
So let us never be ashamed or embarrassed because of the hierarchy of the church, rather let us celebrate that we have in our Pope the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 

1 comment:

  1. Well put Father, thank you for being a shephard for God! Also, I have a hard time picturing you losing your keys. Take care and know that you are loved.

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