22 February, Friday. The Chair of St Peter, apostle. Feast

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1 Pet 5:1-4. Peter’s advice to his fellow Church leaders: feed God’s flock with loving respect.

Matt 16:13-19. Jesus appoints Peter as the Rock on which the Church will be built

First Reading: 1 Pet 5:1-4

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it – not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

St. Peter’s Chair

The early Christians in Rome celebrated the memory of the day when the Apostle held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City, under the title “Cathedra Petri in Roma” (the Chair of Peter in Rome)” The earlier tradition was to celebrate this on 18 January. By the ninth century the feast of the Chair of St Peter had been moved to 22 February, and its celebration was held in two places, in the Vatican Basilica and in a cemetery on the Via Salaria. In both places a chair (cathedra) was venerated symbolising that which the Apostle had used as presiding officer of the assembly of the faithful.

The significance of the feast today is to link the origins of the papacy with the apostolic ministry of the successor of St Peter as visible head of our worldwide Catholic Church. We should pray today for divine guidance to our present pope during his final week in office, and for his successor, soon to be elected, and for the Church of God, that we may be led with an inspirational, uplifting style of papal ministry mirroring the beautiful ideal expressed by St Peter in today’s reading.


One Comment

  1. The first reading speaks of a ‘chief Shepherd’ which obviously refers to Christ ? Chief amongst…. ?

    When I thought to take Church things seriously again, and read that gospel piece for the first time, seriously. Actually read it and was asked what I thought it meant, as a biblical ignoramous. I saw it, as a piece of literature, writing, which spoke of the faith of Peter in Christ as the ‘Son of God’ – as the rock, the foundation on which the Church is to be built.

    It is ‘Faith’ that makes us well, we often hear Jesus say.

    It is our faith in Christ against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

    It just seems absurd to me reading this – that there is such a profession, something made known through Peter by the Father – that Jesus is the true Son of God – and we are then told that Peter himself is to be the ‘rock’.

    Clearly I need to read more. But that is what it said to me and still seems to when reading it today. Forgive the heretic in me. Just being honest.

    Stones – very, very small ‘rocks’ in basket on way out. 🙂

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