The First Reading speaks of a person who literally holds the keys to every door in the kingdom of David. He acts on behalf of the king as the prime minister. Isaiah describes this man as he shall open and no one shall shut, he shall shut and no one shall open. God spoke to this person at that time and points out how this person abused his authority, preferring to build his own tomb and monument rather than look at the welfare of the people. Then God promises to replace this person with another one who will act as the holder of the key to David’s kingdom.
In the Gospel today, Jesus appoints a holder of the keys of his kingdom: Simon after he professed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. With this, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (which means Rock) and Jesus said he will build on Peter his Church. Whatever Peter shall bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever Peter loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Jesus gives this gift only to Simon son of Jonah and not to anyone else. This is the Scriptural basis of the Primacy of the Pope.
The media and some Catholics often demand the Church change her teaching on morality and life issues, mistakenly thinking that the teaching of the Church is based on how one screams the loudest.
The Pope is not a democratic leader who is accountable to the people. He is the representative of Christ to the world and like the holder of the key to the kingdom of David, the Pope is accountable to his King: Jesus Christ. Because of this responsibility, Jesus promised Peter and his successors, the gift of infallibility.
Many think everything the Pope says has to be believed. I find it quite strange that secular media will quote the Pope on issues they want to promote but ignore what the Pope says about Christ, God or issues pertaining to life and morality. This just shows the media has an agenda to advance as they are not honest in what they present.
The Pope’s infallibility is extremely very narrow because he has to be speaking on faith and morals and he has to be clear he is speaking as the Successor of Peter. If a Pope speaks about science, this is beyond his competence and Catholics are not bound to believe it. If a Pope speaks on faith and morals there is a greater weight on this, but this does not mean he is infallible. The Pope can still make a mistake in his pronouncement. When a Pope comments on some issues in an interview on a plane, this is not an exact pronouncement of the faith and Catholics must discern carefully whether they can accept it or not. Besides, the media tends to spin what the Pope says to promote their own agenda.
But when the Pope makes it clear he is exercising his gift of infallibility, then Catholics must believe. The Pope does not do this often and if memory serves me right, the Pope has done this only twice in the history of the Church: The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Dogma of the Assumption.
With this “power”, can the Pope not define or change any teaching he wants? Theoretically yes, but in practice no, because Jesus guarantees, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. The Pope will never err when he proclaims something as infallible. The Bishops however, even if they are successors of the Apostles do not have this gift.
Have you ever wondered why, there are 30,000 Christian denominations in North America, despite the claims that they believe in the Bible? If they believe in the same Bible, why do they not believe in the same thing? Because the preachers of these denominations believe whatever they think the Holy Spirit inspired to them. But how can the Spirit of unity cause 30,000 preachers to come to different conclusions? This is why Papal infallibility and primacy is important. Jesus knew man’s tendency to do things his way. This was the sin of Adam. So Jesus appointed one person who will guard the Truth that he passed to the Apostles. Only the Catholic Church has the fullness of Truth as revealed by Jesus Christ. And the Pope is its sole guardian. This is why he cannot change what Jesus.
The Second Reading tells us: How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways. No one will know the mind of God, except when the Father in heaven reveals it, as Jesus told Peter. This is the gift Jesus gave to Peter, the ability to discern God’s mind, not for his own pleasure, like Shebna in the First Reading, but for the good of God’s people.
Lord, thank you for the gift of the papacy. Thank you for protecting him from error. Thank you for leading your people to the Truth of Jesus Christ through the Pope. Protect him from evil, deliver him from harm. Give him wisdom to be a father to your people. St Peter, pray for our Pope. Lead him to Jesus.