Chair of St. Peter, February 22
1 Peter 5:1-4 / Matthew 16:13-19
Peter's Chair; “Who do you say lam?
Mike Moran was flying Navy helicopters in 1982. One day at lunch, he was explaining to his parents the mechanics of his "chopper.”"As complex and sophisticated as those machines are, he said enthusiastically, "those whirling rotors are actually held in place by one simple hexagonal nut. " Then turning to his mother Mike said, "Guess what that nut is called, the one that holds it all together!" She shrugged. "It's call a 'Jesus Nut,' " he said.
Do we truly believe that it's Jesus who "holds it all together" in our life? "Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all." St. Augustine
The liturgy celebrates today not so much that Peter was the bishop of Rome than what his function is. In answer to Peter’s profession of faith, Jesus appoints him the Rock on which the Church is built. As Peter himself knew very well, the shepherd is the model of his flock, dedicated to the service of the people of God.
The Chair of
St. Peter (Latin: Cathedra Petri), also known as the Throne of St. Peter, is a
wooden throne, encased in bronze, that is physically in St. Peter's Basilica in
Vatican City. Essentially it is an elaborate chair. But there is a profound
symbolic meaning in the chair. The chair is described as "a symbol of the
special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it
united in faith and in charity." (Pope Benedict XVI)
It is a mission entrusted to Peter, as we heard in the gospel, and not just to Peter but also to his successors. Hence this feast also traces for the present universal Church its Apostolic succession right up to Peter. In that sense, Pope Francis is called the successor of St. Peter, and he inherits the same apostolic authority that was given to St. Peter. And this authority is to be used for teaching the truth and to serve with humility, as we heard in the 1st reading, and also to keep the Church united as the Body of Christ so as to be a sign of salvation to the world.
But in recent times, many terrible scandals have rocked the Church to its foundations and the Church have sunk deep into crisis with heresies and schisms. Yet, this feast of the Chair of Peter reminds us that the Church is built on rock and the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. We take comfort and consolation that these are the words of Christ Himself, who is the Head of the Church. May the celebration of this feast also bring about blessings for the Church to strengthen the faith and keep pressing on with the mission of salvation. We must also keep alive the hope that our prayers will bring about the light of Christ shining through the Church in a darkened world.
Prayer Almighty God, you have given us the witnessing of the apostles as the firm rock on which we can rely. Where Peter is, there is the Church. But we see today that the bark of Peter is rocked; we are often like capricious children unused to our newfound freedom. Make us use this freedom responsibly and do not allow us to lose our composure. Reassure us that you are always with us and keep us optimistic about the future, for it is your future and you are our rock for ever. Amen.