The Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 16:13-23. 

After warning the disciples of the poisonous teachings of the Pharisees, Christ leads the Apostles on a grueling walk (30+ miles) to north to Caesarea Philippi, the home of a temple where the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus was worshiped as the “Son of God.” It is before this false temple, Christ reveals Himself as the true Son of God and establishes Peter as the exclusive Patriarch of Christ’s unconquerable Catholic Church of the New Covenant.  

There was much speculation as to the identity of Christ;  Christ uses the confusion to reveal Himself to the Apostles. He asks: “Who do people say the Son of Man (a title associated with the Messiah that Jesus uses for Himself) is?” They respond, confirming most thought Jesus was a great prophet who had returned, John the Baptist (Herod), Elijah or Jeremiah. Christ goes from the general to the specific to force the Apostles to think for themselves: “But who do you say that I am?” Christ’s identity had been a burning question for the Apostles themselves (Matt 8:27).   

Simon Peter, moved by the Father through the Holy Spirit, overcomes any hesitation of denying the “godship” of Emperor Augustus and proclaims, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Christ confirms His identity when He blesses Simon and renames him “Peter”, meaning “Rock.” The renaming of Simon reveals Peter’s unique role in God’s plan as the leader of Christ’s new Church. Christ confirms Peter’s headship and that Satan will not prevail against His Church, let alone the schemes or depravity of men. Confirming Peter’s authority, Christ gives Peter (and his successor popes) the supernatural power to bind and loose on both Earth and Heaven; this is also the basis for the forgiveness of sins by Catholic priests in the Sacrament of Confession. 

Awed by Jesus Christ – Christ is recognized and acknowledges that He is the Son of God. Divine King, Christ establishes the Catholic Church as an unconquerable patriarchy (ruled by men), led by Peter and his successors. Divine Prophet, Christ predicts the success and persistence of the Catholic Church. Divine Priest, Christ establishes the Sacrament of Confession and the forgiveness of sins which is exclusively available to Catholics.   

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men establish countries and companies, establish movements and schools of thought; most are lucky to last a lifetime.  Marvel at Christ’s bold statement that the Catholic Church will prevail continues to be true 2000 years later; no earthly institution comes close to the Catholic Church’s size, longevity and impact. None. This is because the Catholic Church is the only Church established by Christ. 

2) In His Divine Wisdom, Christ establishes Peter and his successors as the exclusive male leaders of Christ’s unconquerable Catholic Church. Refresh your understanding of the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church (CCC 552, 871-896, 100, 937, 1463, 2034) and give thanks for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in establishing a perpetual patriarchy to rule the Church.   

3) Significant numbers of Catholic men are in a state of mortal sin for they have failed to keep the minimal requirement of Church’s Precept to go to Confession at least once a year (CCC 2042). Rather than a burden, realize that Catholic men have the exclusive privilege granted by Christ to be absolved of their sins in Confession; no other men have this blessing. Renew your understanding of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (CCC 553, 1440-1449), examine your conscience, repent, go to Confession and praise God that you are blessed to be a Catholic man.