As citizens return to a continued lockdown due to a worrying increase of COVID-19 infections, Archbishop Jason Gordon is reiterating his call for all to not be afraid of the microbe because it is Christ who is victorious.
In delivering the homily for the 21st Sunday at the Living Water Community Chapel, Port of Spain, the Archbishop said: “Now you have a sense of the terror that the kingdom of darkness has when it sees the Church. Now you understand when you shut your door and you stay inside, how the evil one really experiences the horror of the Church in her true glory and majesty as she marches through the world proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ in every place, in every tongue in every language.”
Referencing the gospel reading (Matt 16:13-20), the Archbishop emphasised that Jesus had an intentionality to build His Church on the rock that is Peter.
He acknowledged while Peter was the most “impetuous” of all the disciples, and one who would put his feet in his mouth at “a moment’s notice”, Jesus entrusted him an authority that is beyond “our wildest imagination”.
“That brothers and sisters, that is how we understand the Petrine office and the Church… because the two are given flesh on the same occasion. The rock and the Church are intertwined.”
Many believe that the Petrine office is an invention of the Middle Ages.
It is not, he declared. It is an invention of Jesus Christ.
He explained that the keys of Peter are binding for all of Heaven and Earth and, as so far as faithful are disciples of Christ, the keys of Peter also bind them.
Archbishop Gordon shared that he finds himself “upset” when he hears persons calling themselves Christian and Catholics, ridiculing Peter and those who make a mockery of the Pope’s decisions. He labelled this not just “bad hospitality” but bad theology and disobedience to the structure Jesus put in place.
The Archbishop said “for a long time”, scripture illustrated the Church operating as a fortress with its gates keeping out a hostile world. However, the imagery in Sunday’s text refers to the underworld—the kingdom of darkness and evil— as a fortress.
“They are terrified behind their boundaries and their fences…. And they’re terrified because they understand that the Church is not just an earthly institution. They don’t see the Church the way that you and I see the Church with all its flaws, its oddities and all of its humanity and all the foolish things that people in the Church have done. They don’t see it just from the sexual scandals and from the financial scandals and the incompetency of priests, bishops and even popes at times….” the Archbishop explained.
Rather, the underworld sees the Church with dread and fear. It sees the Church “marching” through history with a mission that will be fulfilled and the gates of the underworld will be put to flight.
“And in the smashing of those gates the very enclave of evil will be brought to nothing and light will penetrate everything that is evil.”
He continued, “When you hear people say that the Catholic Church is this and that or the other, smile”.
Smile because no other religion can trace their lineage back to Peter.
To this end, he beseeched faithful to not be alarmed or deceived. There is only one Church, one Shepherd and one overlord and that is the Petrine office with Pope Francis as the holder of the keys.