The prophet Isaiah denounces a high royal official, Shebna. He was the master of the palace, the highest position of service during the reign of King Hezekiah. Not only did he counsel the King wrongly, he abused his office. He became ambitious, used his office to enrich himself and lived in luxury. For that reason, he would be deposed and trust out of his position and another person, Eliakim, chosen by God himself would replace him. This one would be the master of the palace, with the power of letting people in, or shutting them out of the palace. As master of the palace, he would dispense the royal property and carry out the royal decrees.
This is exactly the power given by Jesus to St. Peter. With the power of the key, St. Peter would exercise authority as God wants. To accomplish this task means that he would have a good knowledge of the one, whose servant he is. Peter demonstrated his fitness to this call by professing his faith in our Lord Jesus: When asked who do you say that I am? St. Peter answered well: “you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” For that reason, Jesus told him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And 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 what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Like Peter and the Apostles, Jesus continues to ask us: who do you say I am? To answer correctly, we must have God-consciousness and experience Him in our lives by living in union with Him. To answer correctly, we must speak with one voice with St. Peter. To answer correctly, we must be in oneness with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To answer the question posed by Jesus is to live out practically the Christian life always according to God’s Will. It takes a disciple like Peter and the apostles to answer the question of Jesus. To answer it, one has to be deeply committed. It takes the whole life of discipleship in imitation of Jesus to answer it. To answer it, we all have to enter into the mystery of God and translate the love and mercy, the characteristics and attributes of God into life.
God has truly given the Petrine office as a great gift to his holy Church, through which in all generations, all Christ’s disciples, or would be disciples, will respond to his love and find salvation. St. Paul rejoices in God and praises his greatness today, in what he has done for us by means of his holy Church. That is why he sings: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgements and how unsearchable his ways!”
God’s ways are immense. He has blessed his holy Church in wonderful ways. In Peter and the apostles, he has established the foundation of his Church, inviting us in their footsteps to follow him. Enabling us to respond to his ways, through the response they have already made on our behalf. God has entrusted us into their hands, to be fed and guided to salvation by Peter and his successors all through the ages. For that reason, he has given us true apostolic succession within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Through the true apostolic succession, God has established the apostolic college and offices at all times, into which he calls those whom he has chosen to serve as ordained ministers, to fulfill ministerial duties in his Church. That is why he tells us in another place to pray the master of the harvest to send laborers into his vineyard. May God give us shepherds after his own heart, who will lead us aright at all times.