Catholic Doctrine

21st Sunday of Year A

Catechism Themes

21st Sunday of Year A

CCC 551-553: the Keys of the Kingdom
CCC 880-887: foundations of unity: the college of bishops with its head, the successor of Peter

Ecclesial Ministry and The Pope (CCC 874-887)

God’s Word

by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau


Catholic Pastoral Practices

21st Sunday of Year A

Lesson Plans

Transfiguration (Year A) –

Catechist Background and Preparation
Primary Session
Intermediate Session
Junior High School

Petrine Ministry in the Church

The tradition of the Church upholds that because both St. Peter and St. Paul, two major leaders in the early community of the faithful, were martyred in Rome, the responsibility for continuing to ensure the profession of faith has been handed on to the bishop of the local Church of Rome. Thus, Catholics believe that the charge of shepherding the ever-growing universal Church has passed down from Peter to successive holders of the office of bishop of Rome.

Peter is understood by the Church as first among equals, a foundational leader. This image echoes today’s gospel passage where Jesus describes Peter as “rock” (Matthew 16:18). Peter confesses his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, the anointed Messiah. Paul takes up this same theme immediately after his conversion as he begins his own evangelizing ministry (CCC 442).

This profession that Jesus is Lord and Messiah forms the centerpiece of apostolic faith embodied in the Twelve, in which primacy of place is given to Peter. His mission, therefore, is to ensure that this profession does not waver among the college of the Twelve, that they do not lapse from it, and that they remain strong in it (CCC 552).

Although the bishop who sits in the chair of Peter presides over the entire Church in charity, responsibility for shepherding does not rest with the bishop of Rome alone. Jesus called to himself the Twelve, and this apostolic witness and function in the Church is given to all the bishops of the world who together with their head, the pope, exercise their shepherding office collegially. The Second Vatican Council, however, upheld the primacy of the pope, declaring, “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff” (LG 22).

While the pope exercises supreme authority in the Church, it is important to note that he does not do so as any ordinary leader or ruler in the world. His authority is spiritual, deriving from Christ who is the source of all ministry (CCC 874), and thus the papal office is exercised for the good of the whole body of the Church. The very nature of Church ministry is understood as exercised for service to others (CCC 876) because the Son of God came among us, emptying himself, taking the form of “a slave” (Philippians 2:7). Thus, the pope, as does every bishop, exercises a ministry of service in a threefold way: teaching, sanctifying and governing.

The Catholic Church deems that the papacy has, as a gift from God, the ability to proclaim definitively teaching which pertains to faith or morals. This infallibility also characterizes the teaching of all of the bishops together, especially when they are gathered at an ecumenical council (CCC 891). The pope (as does every bishop), through his prayer and preaching, through the celebration of the sacraments, and through his general work, also sanctifies the Church, offering an example of holiness of life that aims us toward the kingdom (CCC 893). The pope, as does every bishop, governs. His governance is described as proper, ordinary (not delegated), and immediate (no intermediary is necessary). But, in exercising this type of power, it must be understood that it confirms and supports the local bishop and that it does not seek to dominate as an autocrat; rather, it seeks to author life and has as its model the Good Shepherd, Christ, who is compassionate and loving (CCC 896).

Finally, the unique contribution of the papal office is best described as a center around which all the local churches gather. Thus, the pope, as successor to Peter, is the concrete expression of unity in the Church. He attempts by witnessing to Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit to encourage an atmosphere of love, justice, peace, and holiness throughout the entire ecclesial community.


  • What is the name of our current pope?
  • What kind of a leader is the pope?
  • How has our present pope worked to spread justice and peace throughout the world?
catechism catholic doctrine


Catholic Catechism

21st Sunday of Year A

21st Sunday of Year A

Bible Verses Cited in Catechism

1st Reading

Is 22:19-23

No need to fill out form. Scroll down and look for YELLOW highlights.

Courtesy of Catholic Cross Reference Online

2nd Reading

Rom 11:33-36

No need to fill out form. Scroll down and look for YELLOW highlights.

Courtesy of Catholic Cross Reference Online

Gospel Reading

Mt 16:13-20

No need to fill out form. Scroll down and look for YELLOW highlights.

Featured Video

Catholic Catechism Topics

28 Lessons

Fr. Eamon Tobin

Catholic Catechism Topics

28 articles on the “four pillars” of the Catechism offering a pastoral approach explaining Catholic beliefs not stated explicitly in the Bible, e.g., Purgatory, Marian doctrines.

  • Suggestions on how to study the articles in a small group 
  • Suggestions on which articles to focus on for two seasons (seven weeks per season)
  • Index of Topics

Animated Catechism Series

3 Minute

70 hand drawn and animated episodes, each 3-4 minutes long. The series follows and explains the Creed, covering all four parts of the Catechism. 


MAN: Episodes 1-6
GOD: 12-20
JESUS: 27-33
CHURCH: 51-60

Courtesy of Catholic Cross Reference Online

Catholic Answers

21st Sunday of Year A

Who are you? Normally you would give your name as an answer to this question. Apart from everything else that makes up your identity, the name that was given you marks a beginning, and it contains everything else about you as your life goes along. Day after day, until you die, and then ever after in the marvelous and mysterious experiences of judgment, purification, heavenly bliss, and the resurrection, your name constitutes the subject for every predicate that describes and delineates and narrates your own particular story.

In the understanding of the ancient Hebrews, a name expresses a nature that is fixed and eternal and even more, has genuine power in the world. Man and all the creatures to whom, on God’s command, he names, including his own companion Eve, experiences a given name as a summary evoking all the power and meaning of a life.