What is the longest lasting institution on earth?
In yesterday’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus establishes something remarkable:
 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli’jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
In this short passage is the birth of the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ:
- Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, establishes Peter as His successor to lead the earthly portion of the Kingdom of Heaven.
- For the past 2000 years, the Church has withstood every attack, every internal riff, every setback; the Church endures.
- As Christ discloses, “…the powers of death will not prevail against it.”
- Despite it’s unlikely beginnings, and unlikely first pope, Peter, the Church has now lasted for over 2000 years.
- It has not only lasted, but continues to thrive: 1.2 billion people all themselves Catholic.
- Never in history has such an institution existed, neither in duration or in membership. The Catholic Church is simply unprecedented in human history.
The Catholic Church endures. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wills it to be so. And it is and will be.