Thursday, August 9, 2012

The keys

What Christian has not heard this passage:

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.

These words spoken personally to St. Peter, enshrined in the image of the crossed keys.

The silver key representing earth, the gold key heaven.

When I was mulling over my decision to become Catholic the hierarchy of the Church was the most difficult part of what the Church taught. I had been raised on the notion that it was all mere human invention. And it is true that the costumes, the pomp and protocol are human invention, and the word Pope is found nowhere in the Bible.

But try as hard as I might I could not dismiss this passage. Jesus had chosen 12 to be the leaders and then he speaks in the singular to one of them, Peter, and entrusts him with a unique role. I have read every attempt to explain the passage away, to explain away the papacy, and I cannot find any of them convincing. The words of Jesus to Peter are plain and clear in any language.

Why would Jesus hand over the keys to a human being? I have to say I do not know, but he did. It is one more thing on which I simply have to trust that God knows what he's doing.

It's what we call faith.