Countries today pride themselves on having governments ‘of the people’, but alas, they can’t hold a candle to what were once upon a time governments ‘by God’! Who can deny that governments inspired by the True God and upheld in Faith can better realise God’s kingdom on earth?
In the First Reading (Is 22: 19-23), look at how Shebna, the royal steward or prime minister in the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah, was ejected from office because of his pride. He was replaced by Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, an influential Hebrew priest. What better example can there be of political recall?
No doubt, many modern constitutions provide for recall, but very often the process is flawed. On the other hand, Isaiah tells us about how God intervened to provide quality governance for His people. It is a pity that we have lost our connection not only with our political leaders but with God Himself, who is undeniably the author of all that we have and enjoy.
In the Gospel (Mt 16: 13-20), we see how and why Peter was chosen to lead the flock. His name was Simon but Jesus called him Kepha (from the Aramaic, ‘rock or stone’) which in the Greek and Latin tradition translates as Petros/Petrus. He was the first disciple to express faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This was revealed to him by the Father in Heaven. Hence, although Peter was humanly imperfect and would thrice deny his Master, Jesus drew him into His inner circle.

That is to say, Jesus knew Peter, and vice-versa, and on that Rock He built His Church. That change of name indicates a mission was given to him, as happened to Abraham and Jacob. Come Pentecost, Peter overcame his faint-heartedness and began to preach boldly. He founded and led the churches of Antioch and Rome. And what a leader and first Pope he was – true to his faith and to his people; he did not gaslight the fledgling community but encouraged them, suffered and died for them, crucified upside down, in Rome, under Emperor Nero.
The uniqueness of our Holy Mother Church is that she is made up of sinners who have nonetheless been called to be followers of Christ! Or else, who would qualify? Such magnanimity is humanly incomprehensible; hence, St Paul, in the Second Reading (Rom 11: 33-36) observes: “Oh, the depths of the richness of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how inscrutable His ways!”
More importantly, the greatest proof of the Church’s divine nature is the many storms she has withstood down the centuries. The same applies to the supremacy of the Petrine office as intended by Jesus. No human institution of that magnitude – if there is any other – would ever survive; but we have the assurance that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” It is a very illuminating and comforting promise; it is also a matter of pride, but can we bask in Her glory and be complacent?
Not at all. No doubt, the Church will not die if we persist in our near-Faustian folly; we will. So, it is up to us to do whatever possible to help our community of faith. With the gathering clouds of suspicion and doubt within the Church (especially with Synodality, which is set to change the order of things), we have to pray for the successors of Peter to be faithful to Scripture and Tradition. And you and I, rather than focus on acquiring wealth, power, influence and success, we ought to see the futility of such aspirations.
Most importantly, Jesus’ forthright question “Who do you say I am?” is a call to get to know Him more closely. Only then we will work wholeheartedly for God’s Kingdom to be realised on earth, acknowledging joyfully: “For from Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things. To Him is glory, for all eternity. Amen.” This will open our minds and hearts to God, will let ourselves be governed by Him and be living signs of the presence of Jesus in the world.