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Pope at Angelus: The Lord entrusted his Kingdom to flawed St Peter

During his Angelus address for the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis recalls how the Lord entrusted His Kingdom to St. Peter, who despite various falls, was able to lead the faithful toward Christ by cultivating the Lord’s holy example.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

“Peter received the keys of the Kingdom not because he was perfect, but because he was humble and honest and the Father had given him a forthright faith.”

This was the comforting message Pope Francis offered during his Angelus address on Saturday, 29 June, as the Church observed the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, the Patrons of Rome.

The Holy Father took his cue from the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus says to Simon called Peter: “To you, I will give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 16:19).

Flawed, but relied on God’s mercy

“That is why,” the Pope pointed out,” we often see St Peter depicted with two large keys in his hand, as in the statue here in this square,” as he reminded that “those keys represent the ministry of authority that Jesus entrusted to him to serve the whole Church. “

While remembering St. Peter’s flaws, the Holy Father reassured that the Apostle, by relying on God’s mercy, was able to support and strengthen his brothers and sisters.

The Holy Father clarified that Peter’s keys, in fact, are the keys to a Kingdom, “which Jesus does not describe as a safe or a vault,” but rather with other images like “a small seed, a precious pearl, a hidden treasure, a handful of yeast,” items which, he noted, are “precious and rich, yes, but at the same time small and inconspicuous.”

Therefore, to reach the Kingdom, the Pope recalled, “one does not need to operate mechanisms and safety locks, but to cultivate virtues such as patience, attention, constancy, humility.”

For everyone, not a few selected guests

Therefore, the mission that Jesus entrusts to Peter, he observed, “is not to bar the doors of the house, allowing access only to a few selected guests,” but “to help everyone find their way in, in faithfulness to Jesus’ Gospel.”

Peter, the Pope recalled, would do this throughout his life, faithfully, until his martyrdom, “after having been the first to experience, for himself, not without fatigue and with many falls, the joy and the freedom that come from meeting the Lord.”

Since Peter was the first to open the door to Jesus, and had to convert, his journey, the Holy Father noted, “was not easy.” 

“Just think: right after he had said to Jesus: ‘You are the Christ,” the Master had to rebuke him,” the Pope said, “because he refused to accept the prophecy of His Passion and Death on the Cross.” 

Questions to ponder

The Pope then urged the faithful to ask themselves some questions.

“Do I cultivate the desire to enter, with God’s grace, into His Kingdom, and to be, with His help, a welcoming guardian of it for others as well?”

“And to do so,” he continued, “do I allow myself to be polished, softened, and modelled by Jesus and His Spirit, Who dwell in me?”

Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Queen of the Apostles, along with Saints Peter and Paul, help us be a guide for one another and support, for the encounter with Christ.

The Pope’s greeting to Romans

At the end of his Audience, Pope Francis greeted the numerous pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for this solemnity, and especially the Romans. “Today”, he said, “I want my greeting to reach all the inhabitants of Rome, each and every one, along with my prayer: for families, especially those who are struggling the most; for the elderly, especially those who are alone; for the sick, the prisoners, and those who are in difficulty for various reasons”.

Finally, he expressed his desire that each person have the experience of Peter and Paul, that is, he explained “that the love of Jesus Christ saves lives and encourages giving it, encourages giving it with joy and freely. Life is not for sale”, he concluded.

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