‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church…’
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (February 22, 2021): 1 PT 5:1-4; PS 23:3,4,5,6; MT 16:13-19
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Our Savior is the Head; and the Church is the mystical Body of Christ. All of us who are members are part of this Body.
On this feast we acknowledge and honor the primacy of St. Peter as first among the Apostles. Jesus conferred on him a unique authority as the Vicar of Christ. This authority has been handed down to all of Peter’s successors. The Church, instituted by the Son of God, is both human and divine. Our Savior is the Head; and the Church is the mystical Body of Christ. All of us who are members are part of this Body. However, the power and responsibility that Jesus put into Peter’s hands did not mean that he would be perfect or sinless, any more than any other person on earth – with a major exception. And that is the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and morals. St. Peter and all the Bishops of Rome who follow him exercise a special teaching office in order to correctly interpret the Word of God. This is done in communion with the bishops. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates.”
When Christ chose Peter to take on this exceptional role, he could not have understood what it would mean to his own life or the lives of countless others down the centuries. However, Peter, foolish and flawed though he sometimes was, took on this commitment to our Lord and to all those who would come to believe in Him. In the reading from today’s reading from Peter’s first letter, we hear his admonitions to all those who have authority within the Church. “Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:2-4). Through God’s grace and guidance, Peter led the Apostles to the best of his talents and abilities. And, in imitation of our Lord who died for all of us, Peter eventually lay down his life in service to Christ.