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Friday, February 17, 2006

From Reed To Rock - By Juan Rodriguez

Today, in Christian circles, whether Denominational, or Quasi-Denominational, there is an argument against Catholics believing that Christ designated a human person to be head of His Church. As Roman Catholics, we call this person the Pope, which comes from the Greek "Patriaches" meaning "Papa" or "Father." The question that crosses minds of the Christians of these particular denominations is "Did Jesus give authority to St. Peter to be head of the Church?" Why would Jesus give the power to a man who was prideful, and a runaway? Catholics are constantly bombarded by these kinds of questions which are sometimes difficult to answer. I will try to explain why Jesus chose Simon, and give you the three major points of why Catholics hold fast to the Papal Doctrine. The three major points deal with the new name given to Simon, the mission Christ gave him, and the Keys that were placed in Simon's care.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to Simon "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church. (Mt 16:18)" In this passage, Christ gives Simon a new name. The name "Simon" in Hebrew means "Reed," (as in a plant that sways when any force pushes it). Christ changed Simon's name to "Peter," which comes from the Aramaic word "Kepha", meaning great "boulder." The word "Peter" derives itself from the Greek, which is "Petra", which also means "boulder." Many of our Denominational brothers and sisters, would say that Christ did not call him "Petra" (which is feminine), but "Petros," (which is the masculine) meaning "pebble." Our Protestant brothers and sisters would argue that Christ would never give Simon a feminine name but masculine. That may be the case, however, we have to get past the Greek to the Aramaic, which was the native language of Our Lord. There we can find its true meaning.

Why would Christ change Simon's name to Peter? There is no one in ancient Hebrew
Culture to have such a name, because it describes an object rather then a person. There are two reasons why Christ changed his name. The first reason is to give him a new identity. The second reason is to re-create Simon in His Fullness, making Simon more like Himself, so that Simon would be holy in His sight (Abram: Gen 17:1-8 and Jacob: Gen 32:22-31). Jesus being God, made Simon in his own Image, a Rock as the Psalms speaks of our Lord (Psalm 89:27). It is no coincidence that changing Simon to Peter shows that Christ has dominion over His new creation as God gave mankind dominion over the land and beast (Gen 1-2). Naming a creature shows that you know it, and that you control it, not for evil purposes, but for the betterment of the community. The same would be said of Simon; Christ guides, and protects Simon and promises him power over His Kingdom. This means that Simon-Peter has a mission in life, a calling to lead the people of God to Heaven. Examples of this can be found all over the Scriptures, but not as profound as those mentioning the Patriarchs of old. Just as Peter was given authority, so were the ancient patriarchs, Abram and Jacob. (Compare the Bible verses and see the similarities: Peter {a} Matt 16:19; 18:18; {b} Jn 21:15-17; {c} 20: 21-23; {d} Lk 10:16; Abram {a & c} Gen 17:1-8; {d} Gen 12: 1-3; Jacob {a-c} Gen 27:1-27; {d} 27:27-29.)

"But wait one second Juan, what about the keys, what do the keys have to do with Christ's authority? AH! You asked and shall receive. Like any teen, your mother & father would not give you the keys to your house unless they can trust you. However, if they can trust you, then you have authority over your home. This means that no one can enter the house if you do not want anyone to come in. Anyone can come into your house if they are trustworthy. This symbolism applies to Jesus and Peter. Jesus is the Son of David, making Him King of the Jews, because Jesus receives this Kingship from his foster father, Joseph (Mt 1:1-21). Receiving His Kingship means that Jesus has Rule over the Kingdom and His people. But a King needs a Prime Minister, a person to watch over his kingdom. This is why Jesus chose Simon.

In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, a Prime Minister is made by God, as he is given the Keys of the Kingdom of David. In this passage you will see the same description of handing the Keys of the Kingdom, and the power to shut and open as it was given to Simon (Is 22:15-23 and Mt 16:19; you can also look at Rev 3:7). In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ said to Peter "I will give you the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound Heaven." (Mt 16:19) When we look at this text we see that Christ gives the Keys of His Kingdom to Peter, who will have the same power as the Prime Minister in Isaiah, but not to an earthly Kingdom, but a Heavenly Kingdom. Pretty powerful isn't it? Hard to swallow, don't you think? Can we deny the Sacred text if we who are Christian say that Jesus is our Lord, and we believe the Word of God is inspired by Him alone? Should we doubt God's promise to His Church and to Peter that "The gates of Hell shall not Prevail against it. "(Mt 16:18) The Authority comes from God Himself and it is shown through symbolism as a prophesy of Christ's reign on Earth, as it has always been in Heaven. This image can be seen in Gen 41:37-45 where Pharaoh said to Joseph, "You shall be over my house, and all my people will obey your orders. Only I will be greater than you." (Gen 41:40). Pharaoh also said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh! Without your consent no one is to raise hand or foot in the whole land of Egypt." (Gen 41:44). When looking at this text, Pharaoh is a prophetic image of Christ, because Christ was both God and Man on earth, and according to the Egyptians, Pharaoh was like a god. It also shows the power that Pharaoh gives to Joseph is similar to the power that Christ gave to Peter. There is no denial that God has a plan for His Kingdom, and no one can say this is not true, because it is written in the Sacred Scripture and can never be denied.

In conclusion, we see that Jesus had a plan for Simon to be Head of the Church, giving him a new name, a mission, and Keys to His Kingdom. We see that Scripture speaks on this greatly, but it takes the eyes of faith and the heart to study to figure out what God is teaching through the Church. It is up to us to help our brothers and sisters know the Catholic Church's teachings. Christ made Simon into a man of God, just as He did with the Patriarchs of old. Do not be afraid to speak about the faith. Be steadfast as the Rock, and not pushed around like the Reed.


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