The first is the gift of faith: knowledge of realities beyond the reach of human intellect alone.
The unknowability is described gloriously by Saint Paul in today’s In today’s second reading (Romans 11:33-36):
Oh, the depth
of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments
and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.
God’s ability to bridge that unknowability gap is described simply by our Lord himself in today’s Gospel (Matthew 16:13-20):
Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but my heavenly Father.
Reality is inevitably greater than what can fit in our skulls, but God enables us to know the unknowable.
The other gift of God, closely related to the gift of faith, is God’s gift of authoritative ministry, manifested throughout salvation history (including today’s first reading – Isaiah 22:19-23) but never so powerfully and authoritatively as in today’s Gospel, from the lips of God’s only begotten Son.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld
shall not prevail against it.
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.
God’s gift of authoritative ministry has been more difficult to appreciate at various moments throughout the millennia, although in the case of the Petrine ministry we have been doubly blessed by the service of the great Pope John Paul II and the current Pontiff Pope Benedict XVI.
May God give us the grace to appreciate the gift of faith and the gift of authoritative ministry and may God use these gifts in our lives and in the lives of all the world for eternal salvation and true glory.