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A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 16:13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and 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." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, " God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter. "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

The Gospel of the Lord Praise be to you Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTIONS: Jesus was in Caesarea Philippi which was mostly pagan. Simon, now called Peter, had such profound faith. He boldly and firmly declared that Jesus was the Son of God. He declared his divinity. His faith was given to him by God the Father as no human teaching or understanding could have enlightened Peter to believe that Jesus was the Son of God . That same day Jesus gave the authority to Peter to the Kingdom of Heaven by giving him two keys. The keys are symbols of teaching authority. One key is to open and the other is to lock. The authority given Peter was to BIND or ban, prohibit, bar, outlaw on earth and thus in heaven and the other was to LOOSE or set free, liberate release, untie or forgive on earth and thus in heaven. He was given the authority to forgive and not forgive, permit or not permit and the authority to teach and render binding decisions. Peter and the successors to his seat are given the authority by Jesus to be chief teachers and administrators and through Peter and his successors heaven governs the Church on earth.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, though for twenty centuries the church has preached and taught about you, there are still many who do not know who you are. You still ask us, --"And you, whom do you think I am?" -- We pray that you stir up the faith in our beloved priests that they may set the world on fire with the love of the Holy Spirit. Keep the priests close to you so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their vocation (excerpt from Prayer for Priests) . Amen

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