Chair of St. Peter, February 22

 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.


    Encountering Christ:

    1. Who Am I?: Christ asked the Apostles a simple question, truly the most important question of every person’s life: “Who do people say that I am?” As professed Catholics, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Acknowledging Christ’s identity also requires that we acknowledge our true heritage as children of the Father. Everyone who believes these words strives to live holy and heroic lives. We are blessed with many examples throughout Church history—saints who lived and died for Christ. 

    2. Christ Is Stronger: What a promise Christ made here! What hope we should have. knowing that hell cannot win against Christ’s Church! Despite what may happen in the world around us, we set our eyes and our hearts on heaven and recognize that no evil can overcome the destiny that Christ lays before us. Christ tells us throughout the Gospels that we should not fear, so we must heed his words: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

    3. Our Earthly Treasures: Christ makes a clear connection between our earthly lives and our eternal ones. If we desperately cling to earthly things, we bind ourselves to this world. Yet the opposite is also true. If we do everything to honor God while here, then what would God withhold from us when we reach heaven? Our eternal salvation is a great gift. It is a “pearl of great value.” Are we like the merchant who “went and sold all that he had and bought” the pearl? (Matthew 13:45-46). Or is there some aspect of our earthly life that we cling to? Do we surrender our time? Our worries? Our talents? Each surrender to God can be a way of letting him use our earthly lives for his eternal glory.

    Conversing with Christ: Jesus, sometimes I can get so caught by life’s circumstances that I forget why I am here. Help me to keep my eyes on you so that joy, hope, and faith will always prevail in the depths of my heart despite the tumultuousness of this earthly life. You are my king! I surrender myself to you!

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer up the best and the worst part of my day as a sacrifice of praise.

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.