As you all know, I was born in Argentina, the land of Maradona and Messi. Soccer is the national sport, and everyone knows and talks about it.

The streets are deserted when the national team plays any match of the World Cup. Schools take a break; people attend large venues to watch it in big groups and cheer loudly. They sing, laugh, shout, and cry, all at the same time.

Last December, Messi, one of the best soccer players the world has ever seen, took Argentina to win the final match in Catar. People in Argentina were so happy about the win that in Messi’s hometown, they proposed giving him the city keys.

There is something exceptional about having the keys to a place. Today’s first reading from Isiah already prefigures the honor and power that comes with the keys: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.”

It is incredible the parallel between the words of Isiah and the ones of Matthew: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The keys, in this text, are a symbol papal of authority. Thus St. Gregory in his letter to the Emperor Maurice, after quoting Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18-19, writes: “Behold he [Peter] received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing is committed to him, the care of the whole Church and its government is given to him.”

St. Peter, Bishop of Rome, and his successors, the popes, have not only a primacy of honor but a primacy of jurisdiction. Thus, the First Vatican Council teaches: “1823 [Canon]. If anyone then says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not established by the Lord Christ as the chief of all the apostles, and the visible head of the whole militant Church, or, that the same received great honor but did not receive from the same our Lord Jesus Christ directly and immediately the primacy in true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.”

The Papacy is a gift of Christ to his bride, the Church. Not being enough to be present in our hearts through grace and in the Sacraments, Christ wanted to be with us visibly and tangibly in the person of his Vicar on earth, the Pope.

The Pope is, first and foremost, a visible father who guides, teaches, unifies, and protects his children. Through his guidance he lovingly and mercifully lead us to heaven. His teaching is a light that confirms us in the faith by showing us the truth.

Today, we are grateful to Jesus Christ for the gift of the Papacy. This gift is one more sign of God’s love for us. It is another assurance that Jesus is with us until the end of the world.

Let us study the documents of the Magisterium of the Popes, deepening in their teaching and opening our minds to the truth.

Finally, let us pray and offer sacrifices for our Pope Francis, that the Lord will protect and guide him always.

Aug 27 – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time