We all have sets of keys, one to our house, our car, some for work, and other essentials in our life. In our society, locking doors is essential; we need to protect ourselves from threats and robbers. We also don’t give away keys to random strangers; we usually only give them to people we trust and who need those keys. That may include family members, certain co-workers, and maybe friends. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the keys to the kingdom of heaven to Peter. In this brief article, I hope to show you what it means for Peter to have the keys to the kingdom of heaven and what it means for Catholics.
First, Jesus isn’t giving Peter a set of keys to a building or house that they lived in. These keys represent the authority given to someone. In this instance, Jesus is giving authority to Peter. We can better understand that from our first reading. In the first reading, Eliakim is given the key to the House of David. Eliakim was named successor to Shebna, who was over the house of David; he is second in authority to the king. He governs in the name of the king. Jesus gives the keys to Peter, and Peter governs the Church in the name of Jesus. Jesus names Peter as the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Peter hands this authority down to his successor, and now Pope Francis has the same power Peter had. Pope Francis now has the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Why did only Peter receive this authority? There is no specific explanation given in the Gospel on why Jesus picked Peter, but if you notice when Jesus asks all the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter alone responds to the question by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” I think it’s possible Peter was the leader of the disciples or frequently spoke on their behalf. Jesus, seeing the leadership and authority with which Peter spoke, may have helped Him decide to give Peter this authority..
What does this mean to us as Catholics? The Pope is like the CEO of a company. However, the authority that he has comes from Jesus Christ himself. When Pope Francis speaks, he is speaking on behalf of the entire Church. We should respect and listen to what the Pope says and what he teaches. When the Pope speaks, he is speaking with authority, an authority that comes from Jesus Christ himself. Think of him as the Father of the largest family on earth. In a family, the Father typically has the highest authority, and the same is true with the Pope. Watch the video bellow if you want to know more.