FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
How did you get your first major job? Personally, I had to meet prior requirements in college and pass three extensive tests. The first test analyzed how I thought things through. I passed this intelligence test just to be able to take the classes required to study for my certification. After months of classes, papers and required lab work I could take an exam to get a qualifying status. Once I passed my qualifying test, I could practice my craft for months and then take a third test to certify. It was a long and arduous process, yet my heart was in it and it seemed to be a dream come true.
Simon followed Jesus and learned from his teachings and companionship. One day, Simon appears to just answer God’s simple question and all of a sudden, he has a new name and is in charge of the Catholic Church! Not only that, he is given the authority to say what is right and wrong in the eyes of God.
However, Jesus still has his hand on the foundation and structure of the Church. Jesus is the one who builds. Peter never came up with any new laws of justice or lessons of worshiping God. Peter was well formed and had a spiritual connection with the Father, which was sufficient to be a leader for the disciples. This is one of the times in our faith we just have to believe in the words spoken by our Lord, despite the failings of our first Pope.
This passage from the Gospel of Matthew is of great importance and has been used in defense of the Catholic Church in many ways. It establishes the position and authority of the Pope and priest’s authority in the sacrament of confession. It is also a reminder that the evil one will never overcome God’s church. God has been in charge of the Church for two thousand years, even though there are times of confusion and valid concerns of maintaining holiness in the Catholic Church. But God’s power and might shine most brightly during the tough times throughout our history. Jesus is the light of the world and who better to lead us all than Jesus?