Today, as we celebrate the Chair of St. Peter, it is interesting to note that soon after Jesus promised to give Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, He reprimanded him for trying to deny the need for Him to suffer crucifixion.
It makes me wonder whether the Keys to the Kingdom are to be found in the humility and the docility to repent. These qualities were manifested by Peter on numerous occasions. When reprimanded or faced with an awkward dilemma, he was willing to repent. When Jesus reprimanded him as "Satan", Peter did not abandon Him. When Jesus offered the Twelve the opportunity to leave Him after He insisted on the need to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
When Peter denied Jesus three times, he repented and wept bitterly. When confronted with the conversion of Cornelius inspired by the Holy Spirit, he repented of his former "Jews-only" approach to evangelization. And years later, when his personal weakness led him to show partiality to Jewish Christians, he was willing to accept a reprimand from St. Paul.
It would seem then that Peter's sincere and docile receptivity to the grace of repentance was key to his receiving the office of Vicar of Christ. Those who live in communion with him will thus do so by continually sharing more deeply and gratefully in the grace of a docile and sanctifying repentance, guided by the saving truth of God's Word proclaimed by the Magisterium of the Church.
God bless you!
Speroforum columnist Fr. Tom Collins is a Catholic priest who serves the people of Virginia.