In today’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus enacts the greatest transfer of power ever recorded in human history:
 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.”
What is being recalled in this short passage is remarkable:
- Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, has made a decision to transfer power to Peter, a poor fisherman. This alone, is unprecedented in human history: a great king giving his earthly power to someone who by all appearances would have none of the power and skills to carry out such a great task.
- Of course, Jesus knows something that no one could possibly know: what gives Peter power after Christ is resurrected is Christ Himself.
- The giving of keys has significant historical roots; a great king would appoint a prime minister to operate on his behalf (Isaiah 22:15-25). Jesus is using human custom in a Divine Way. No prime minister ever has been given the kind of power that Christ is granting.
- Peter is given the power on earth to forgive sins in Christ’s name: “…whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Literally, Peter is given Christ’s authority to free people from the torments of Hell.
Peter and his successors, have yielded the power given to them by Christ for 2000 years. The future popes and the Catholic Church of Christ will continue to be the only source of forgiveness on earth and “the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus said so.