Why The Pope Matters So Much

keys to st. peterCatholics make a big deal about the Pope.  We talk about the Pope, we
think about the Pope, we pray for the Pope.  We even make a big deal
about his hobby (Benedict plays the piano), his pet (rumors have it
that he now has a cat) and the color of his shoes (red, which
represents the blood of the martyrs).  So why IS the Pope so
important?  Here are some of my reasons:

1)    Jesus created the first Pope in St. Peter.  He changed his name
from Simon to Peter and like the Godly name-changes in Scripture, when
the Lord changes your name, He changes your whole life.  Abram became
Abraham, Saul became Paul.  Simon became Peter, the “rock” upon whom
Jesus would found His Church (Matthew 16:18).
2)    Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19).  In
the Old Testament understanding of the Kingdom, the master entrusted
his steward with the keys to his palace and holdings in his absence.
The steward kept the keys and the complete trust of his master until
the master returned.  When Jesus gave Peter His keys, everyone who
heard Him knew what that meant.  And so do we, since we believe what
Jesus says.
3)    Peter was singled out by God Himself.  No other Apostle was
given the authority that Jesus gave to him.  The others were His
trusted friends and disciples but only Peter was given a new name and
given his Master’s keys.  Only Peter was given the knowledge of Who
Jesus was, by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:17).
4)    Peter was named “pastor” by Christ.  Jesus gave Peter the
authority to teach and shepherd the Church in His name.  He told Peter
to “feed My sheep” (John 21:17).  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, Who
loves and cares for His flock.  He gave Peter the role of shepherd to
the Church and promised nothing, not even the power of hell, could
harm the Church (Matthew 16:18).  This is why we know that God
protects the Popes and His Church from ever teaching us errors of
faith.  Even the popes who were champion sinners in their personal
lives never taught us errors in faith.  The Holy Spirit guarantees
that His Bride will always remain spotless.
5)    Peter speaks for Christ.  Jesus told Peter that when he taught
the faith, people should listen to him.  Even more than that, Jesus
said that listening to Peter was the same as listening to Him.  That
makes it pretty clear how Jesus views St. Peter!  Jesus said, “Whoever
listens to you, listens to Me.  Whoever rejects you, rejects Me.  And
whoever rejects Me rejects the One Who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
6)    The power and authority which Christ gave to Peter was meant to
be inheirited by his successors.  We know this because the power and
authority that Jesus gave to His Apostles was given to Matthias after
Judas’ suicide (Acts, Chapter 1).  We read how the Apostles were
gathered together by Peter and how they chose Matthias.  Through them,
he received ordination and authority, just as Jesus had given to the
original twelve men.  If their authority had been limited, as many
Protestants believe, it would have been impossible to “replace” Judas
since Jesus had already ascended to heaven.  But no, they came
together and led by Peter and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
chose Matthias.  This is basically how a conclave of Cardinals gathers
to choose St. Peter’s successor.  They’re doing what the Apostles did
with the same power and authority that acted through the Apostles.

So yes, the Pope matters.  He mattered as St. Peter and he’ll matter
when he’s elected anew in Rome in just a few days from now.  The man
may change, but the power and authority of the office never changes.
Catholics love the pope because he is our Holy Father.  He is our
pontiff, which means “bridge-builder.”  He’s our bridge from 2013 back
to St. Peter himself.  The pope is our bridge to the power and
authority that Christ gives His Church.  He is meant by God to lead
all Christians, to shepherd the whole flock, and to be the
bridge-builder to draw all followers of Christ together—not an easy
task.  And it’s understandable that it became too much for a frail and
elderly man to do.  Benedict revealed the depth of his humility and
service when he stepped down from the chair of St. Peter.  The world
waits and watches Rome as the conclave begins, and the next successor
of St. Peter emerges as our new pope.  Come, Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the
cardinals have elected me—a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”

                                                   —-Pope Benedict XVI

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