"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. On this rock I will build my church; the gates of hell will not prevail against it." -Matthew 16:18
"He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead." -Apostles' Creed
Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, authored a reflection on Jesus's promise to Peter for the completion of the Lenten 40 Days for Life that could not be more appropriate on this Good Friday, when we celebrate what Christ accomplished by his suffering and death.
When we read this verse, we usually think that the Lord is promising that the church, which is his Body, will withstand all the attacks launched against it. Of course, that is true. But when we think about it more carefully, we realize that in a battle, the gates do not run out into the battlefield to attack the enemy. Rather, they stand still to defend the city from the enemy attacking it.
So when the Lord says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, who is doing the attacking?
It is the church storming the gates!
The church, all of God's people in Christ, is called to take the offensive, to run into enemy territory, and to gain ground for Jesus Christ. We do not wait for an invitation; we already have a command.
We prepare, but we do not wait for circumstances to be perfect; we already have one who has gone before us.
During these 40 days, we have stormed the gates. We have taken the offensive. We have pushed forward the boundaries of the kingdom. And we must keep doing so, in numerous ways.
Indeed, the gates of hell will not prevail. The gates of falsehood will flee in the presence of truth. The gates of sin will melt in the presence of grace. The gates of death will fail in the presence of the church, the People of Life!
We call today "Good" because today is the day that Christ, our great high priest, led the way by storming the gates of hell. Today is the day that the powers of darkness went on the defensive. Today is the day that we remind ourselves that it is our turn, here and now, to pick up the cross that has become our standard and carry it forward, to continue our share of the fight in the victory that he has already accomplished.