Friday, February 22, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle. It seems both fitting and painfully ironic that this feast should coincide with the Pope’s Summit on Protection of Minors in the Church. When He handed the “keys” to Peter, could Christ ever have foreseen that his beloved church would descend to this shame?
Factions in the Catholic Church argue over where to place the blame for this horror. Some point to the entitlements of clericalism. Some point to more liberal stances on sexuality. The most vocal factions use their voices to blame others rather than look to their own faults.
But today’s Gospel suggests that none of these explanations goes to the root of the crisis.
What Christ handed Peter was POWER. Our Gospel says that this power was to be used to map the journey to heaven for the rest of us – appropriately “binding” and “loosening” the guidelines of that journey.
That’s a lot of power!
Unfortunately, the famous quote of John Dalberg-Acton, a 19th century Catholic writer, too often proves true. He said:
Power tends to corrupt.
And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What was it that Jesus saw in Peter to give him hope for Peter’s incorruptibility?
- Peter, who abandoned his livelihood in full devotion to the call.
- Peter, who tried to protect his beloved Lord from the wrath of the Pharisees
- Peter who, defending Jesus in the Garden, cut off the ear of Malchus
- Peter, who recognized and begged forgiveness for his weakness
- Peter, who chose an inverted crucifixion because he deemed himself unworthy to die as his master did.
Power fueled by this kind of single-hearted devotion and humility is the true “Power of the Keys”. It suffers no shadow of greed, self-importance, domination, or lust. It is always “power for” not “power over” others.
Until our church structures foster this kind of mutual, non-exclusionary power in our leaders AND members, we have little hope of transformation.
Let us pray for true insight and courage for those gathered in Rome.
Music: (Maybe the Cardinals could sing this song in their hearts on the way to their meetings? Maybe we could sing it too sometimes?)
Lay It Down – Moxie Gibson