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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 13, 2017
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Benton on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. It is based on the following readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 84: 3, 4, 5, 10, 11; and Matthew 16:13-19.
Today is your patronal feast and centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and so we have special readings today, the focus of which is the famous story of the keys.
If you're like me, you have a bunch of keys. In my pocket I have my car keys and the keys to my house and my office. Keys give power and access to those who have the key and deny access to those who don't.
In today's Gospel Peter has discovered the key to understanding who Jesus is: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" and Jesus responds by giving him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever he binds or looses on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven.
Our Lady of Fatima's "message was to call us to a conversion of heart, repentance from sin and prayer, especially the rosary. We see how on target her message continues to be a century later in today's increasingly immoral, secular society."
These are the two keys represented on the papal flag: the silver key represents the pope's authority on earth as the successor of Peter to whom these keys were originally given, and the gold key represents his authority in heaven.
But there's more: like with the computer in my home, it's not enough just to be able to enter the house and turn on the computer. You also have to know the password, which I would have to reveal to you — you wouldn't be able to figure it out on your own. That revealed knowledge is another kind of key, a key that opens up for you a whole new world, gives you access to the world of cyberspace, the Internet.
In the case of the Church founded by Jesus on the rock of Peter's faith, that key of revealed truth is the source of "the magisterium," the teaching authority of the Church. Of all the disciples in today's Gospel, Peter was the only one who got it right and yet not even he figured it out on his own: it was revealed to him by God!
Jesus said: "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father ..." Peter not only has the keys to heaven and earth, the power to loose and bind, he also has been given the key to understanding who Jesus is: "the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
Peter's teaching authority and the teaching authority of his successors — the magisterium of the Church — derives from this knowledge revealed to Peter and validated by Jesus. Jesus doesn't just build his Church on Peter the man he has chosen, he also builds it on the rock of Peter's faith ... and thus also on all who share and teach that faith, on all who profess with Peter that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God" — especially Pope Francis, whose magisterium is like that of Peter.
He has been given the key that empowers him to teach God's truth with special, and at times infallible, authority. But not just to him; also to us who profess that same faith in union with Peter, in union with the pope.
Therefore it should be no surprise that those who do not have this key are at quite a disadvantage, sort of left out in the dark, without access to the truth that will set them free. This is why the Lord continues to intervene, sometimes sending his Blessed Mother to us with a special message — like Our Lady of Fatima 100 years ago — the same year this Church named in her honor was dedicated.
Her message was to call us to a conversion of heart, repentance from sin and prayer, especially the rosary. We see how on target her message continues to be a century later in today's increasingly immoral, secular society.
Many people are simply ignorant of the truth and many more simply find it inconvenient, and so refuse to open their hearts to the way of truth and life ... and so have no future, at least not a very appealing future, as Our Lady of Fatima warns us.
But evil will not prevail in the end. After all, what does Jesus say about the future of the Church he is founding on Peter? "The gates of hell" — the devil, the forces of evil, of ignorance and blindness — "shall not prevail against it!"