Today’s Catechism sections discuss the signs and keys of the Kingdom of God. Supporting material comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great’s “Registrum Epistolarum”.

The signs of the kingdom of God

547 Jesus accompanies his words with many "mighty works and wonders and signs", which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.268

548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.269 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.270 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father's works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.271 But his miracles can also be occasions for "offence";272 they are not intended to satisfy people's curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.273

549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,274 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,275 but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage.276

550 The coming of God's kingdom means the defeat of Satan's: "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."277 Jesus' exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus' great victory over "the ruler of this world".278 The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ's cross: "God reigned from the wood."279

"The keys of the kingdom"

551 From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.280 He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and 'sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal."281 They remain associated for ever with Christ's kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.282

552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Our Lord then declared to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."284 Christ, the "living Stone",285 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.286

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."287 The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my sheep."288 The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles289 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

In his “Registrum Epistolarum” (Book VII, Letter 40), Pope St. Gregory the Great discusses the Chair of Peter, and the authority given to the Papacy stemming from the charge Jesus gave to Peter concerning the “Keys of the kingdom”.

Your most sweet Holiness has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, Prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors. And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy, not only in the dignity of such as preside, but even in the number of such as stand. But I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to me about Peter's chair who occupies Peter's chair. And, though special honor to myself in no wise delights me, yet I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me. For who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the Prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Petrus from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of the Truth, To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19). And again it is said to him, And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren (xxii. 32). And once more, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me? Feed my sheep (John 21:17). Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years.

Footnotes

268 ⇒ Acts 2:22; cf. ⇒ Lk 7:18-23.
269 cf. ⇒ Jn 5:36; ⇒ 10:25, ⇒ 38.
270 Cf. ⇒ Mk 5:25-34; ⇒ 10:52; etc.
271 Cf. ⇒ Jn 10:31-38.
272 ⇒ Mt 11:6.
273 Cf. ⇒ Jn 11:47-48; ⇒ Mk 3:22.
274 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:5-15; ⇒ Lk 19:8; ⇒ Mt 11:5.
275 Cf. ⇒ Lk 12 13-14; ⇒ Jn 18:36.
276 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:34-36.
277 ⇒ Mt 12:26, ⇒ 28.
278 ⇒ Jn 12:31; cf. ⇒ Lk 8:26-39.
279 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: Regnavit a ligno Deus.
280 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:13-19.
281 ⇒ Lk 9:2[ETML:C/].
282 ⇒ Lk 22:29-30.
283 Cf ⇒ Mk 3:16; 9:2; ⇒ Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.
284 ⇒ Mt 16:18.
285 I Pt 2:4.
286 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:32.
287 ⇒ Mt 16:19.
288 ⇒ Jn 21:15-17; Cf. ⇒ 10:11.
289 Cf. ⇒ Mt 18:18.