Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), and today’s readings are especially important to Catholics. Today’s Gospel passage (Mt 16:13-20) contains the words whereby Christ entrusted authority over the Church to the apostle Peter:

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.

Since we highlighted some bishops and their support of Pope Francis exactly one month ago, I thought perhaps it would be nice to shine some light on priests who did so in their preaching today. Here are three homilies that I enjoyed listening to today. If you know of any other good ones, please feel free to post them in the comments.

“Jesus Christ is not a liar”

First up is Father Larry Richards, a pastor from the Diocese of Erie, who is also a popular author and speaker, and the founder of the Reason for Our Hope Foundation. After spending some time in the hospital earlier this week with a health scare (he’s fine now!), Fr. Larry spoke about how he spent much of that time reflecting on Christ’s promise of to the Church.

Here’s a partial transcript:

The reality was that I was thinking about a lot of stuff, because you get to thought think a lot while you’re in there. Especially about like things today with the Gospel, because you know, many people have gotten on my case throughout the years about being a supporter of Pope Francis.

I’ve gotten emails, “When are you going to stop?” I’ve had parishioners come in and sit me down in my office and say, “You’ve got to stop supporting the pope!” … And again as I sat there and I was facing God, I was all the more convinced that this is the way to be.

Why? Because of Jesus and his promise today in the Gospel, right? This is about Jesus. And he makes this a promise today, right? He looks at Peter, and he says, “You are rock, and on you I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I give you the keys.” Think of this, “I give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth, I’m going to bind it in heaven. Whatever you loose on Earth, I will loose in heaven.”

That’s the promise of Almighty God. It’s just a promise, and I don’t think Jesus Christ is a liar (I don’t know about you), but I know that Jesus Christ is not a liar. I would stake my life on him and I would stake my life on what he says.

Watch the entire thing:

The Pope and the Promise of Jesus

Father Michael Najim of the diocese of Providence used this Sunday’s Gospel to discuss some of the anti-Francis rhetoric on social media and laid out—in very clear terms—what the Church teaches about the papacy.


Now, most of you probably don’t follow the infighting that goes on in Church circles these days—at least I hope you don’t follow it, because much of it’s very toxic.

I follow some of it because I feel the need to stay tuned in a little bit to that. But for example, social media is filled with Catholics who have a very strong disdain for Pope Francis. Now, there are also defenders of Pope Francis on social media, but it’s very sad to see Catholics who have a real hatred for our Holy Father.

And I don’t use that word lightly. Many Catholics who have disdain for Pope Francis claim that it’s because they believe he’s very liberal. They feel that he’s destroying the Church or the Church’s teaching. Now, just a footnote. The Catholic Church is neither liberal nor conservative, right? Catholicism transcends those categories.

Catholicism is much bigger than liberal or conservative. Those are political categories that unfortunately some people impose upon the Church, but Catholicism is so much bigger than those categories.

It’s not possible for Pope Francis or any pope to destroy the Church or to radically alter the teaching of the Church, that departs from the will of Christ.

Listen to it all (audio only):

A Narrative of Hope

Finally, our friend Father Satish Joseph spoke about the hope-filled message in today’s Gospel. While lamenting some recent scandals in the Church, Fr. Satish reminds us that our hope is in Christ. He says:

Not only is there a crisis of global leadership, but division and scandals continue to consume the church. Just last week two more stories of child abuse scandals rocked the American church. Close to home, a priest in the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio was arrested and charged with sex trafficking. In a second case, Michael Bransfield, retired bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston apologized for “any scandal or wonderment” he has caused. He has been accused of swindling church funds and sexually harassing at least three men. How much more can we endure? Catholics have never been more devastated by the sexual abuse scandal and the lack of credibility of church leadership. Add to that the ultra-traditionalist’s banner of revolt against Pope Francis that threatens rip the church apart. In the secular world too, the rise of fascism, radical nationalism, climate change, racial, economic, and gender inequalities have left the world without hope.

It is in these times fraught with desperation, division, fear, and hopelessness, that we hear Matthew’s narrative of hope.

Watch the entire thing:

Thank you, Fathers, for your messages of hope and fidelity.

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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