Just inside the northern boundary of Israel, King Herod built a city which was rebuilt by his son Philip who renamed it after the Roman Emperor (Caesar) and himself. Hence, the city was known as Caesarea Philippi. A sizeable river issues from a cave there and is one of the main sources of the Jordan River. It was also a pagan shrine. Hence, since pagan worship and worldly power joined forces to dominate people’s lives, Jesus’ commissioning of Peter with the key of the kingdom is a sign of a new kingdom coming into the world eclipsing that of Caesar, Herod, and pagan worship.
Furthermore, there is a huge rock there, and God was referred to as a rock in the Old Testament. In giving Simon a new name, Peter, which means “rock,” Jesus is giving God’s authority to Peter to be exercised for the good of his people, the Church (Matthew 16:13-20). Let us be forever grateful for this great blessing now under the leadership of Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, as we pray for his ministry in the world today.
“When I am about to talk to anybody,” said a young
village girl, “I picture to myself Jesus Christ and how
gracious and friendly he was to everyone.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars
For a wonderful study on St. Peter being the rock on which Jesus would build His Church, see the Lectio series on St. Peter at Formed.org. It's FREE for St. Jane Frances parishioners!