REFLECTION FOR TODAY
February 22, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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.” Matthew 16:18–19
In our gospel reference today, we hear Jesus conferring on Peter the responsibility of services by giving him the authority over his flock saying at the same time the Church will prevail. It is clear that the office of Peter is not about power over others, but is a gift from God for the purpose of serving the flock in imitation of the Good Shepherd.There are several foundational truths taught to us by our gospel reference of today. One of those truths is that “the gates of the netherworld” shall never prevail against the Church. There is much to rejoice over by that fact.
Think of the many human institutions that have existed throughout the centuries. The most powerful governments have come and gone. Various movements have come and gone. Countless organizations have come and gone. But the Catholic Church still remains and will remain until the end of time. That is one of the promises of our Lord that we celebrate today.
The Church has not remained simply because of good leadership all of these years. In fact, corruption and serious internal conflict have been evident within the Church from the beginning. Popes have lived immoral lives. Cardinals and bishops have lived as princes. Some priests have gravely sinned. And many religious orders have struggled with serious internal divisions. Even lay leaders and Church members have been involved in lots of evil and scandals. But the Church itself, this shining Bride of Christ, this infallible institution still remains and will continue to remain because Jesus guaranteed it.
With today’s modern media by which every sin of every member of the Church is able to be instantly and universally broadcast to the world, there can be a temptation to look down on the Church. Scandal, division, controversy and the like can shake us to the core, at times, and cause some to question their ongoing participation in the Roman Catholic Church. But the truth is that every weakness within Her members should actually be cause for us to renew and deepen our faith in the Church itself. Jesus did not promise that every Church leader would be a saint, but He did promise that “the gates of the netherworld” would not prevail against Her.
Reflect, today, upon your own view of the Church today. If scandals and divisions have weakened your faith, then turn your eyes to our Lord and to His holy and divine promise. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against the Church. That is a fact promised by our Lord Himself. Believe it and rejoice in that glorious truth.
My glorious Bridegroom, You have instituted the Church upon the rock foundation of Peter’s faith. Peter and all of His successors are Your precious gift to us all. Help me to see beyond the sins of others, the scandals and divisions, and to see You, my Lord, leading all people to salvation through Your bride the Church. I renew my faith, this day, in the gift of this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Jesus, I trust in You.