1 Peter 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.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
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.”
Today we celebrate the Chair of St. Peter, or Peter becoming the first pope. Jesus gave this duty to Peter immediately after he professed faith that Jesus was the Messiah. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus prophesied that Peter would found the Catholic Church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
Where does this leave us today when we see hell blatantly waging war on the Church? We are experiencing a Church rife with scandal: homosexual themed Masses, sex abuse by priests and religious sisters with silence and cover-ups, priests marrying each other and running a church together, as controversy and confusion mark the decisions of the Vatican. Many refuse to support the Church or are leaving because of abuse and scandal. We may look at the church today and wonder how the gates could not prevail against her.
What is our foundation as the Catholic Church? Our rock is the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save us. We do not save ourselves by being sinless. We are not even saved by good works. We are saved when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
God continually pours out His grace through the administration of the Sacraments where we experience the presence of God. No matter how the leadership may fail, Jesus still gives Himself to us in the Eucharist. He is the saving victim who already defeated our enemy.
Because Jesus is the head and the one who loves us enough to give Himself to us, body, blood, soul and divinity, hell will never overtake us. At the end of the day, the Church belongs to God and as long as we call upon the name of Jesus, we will receive Him and have full power over the works of the enemy. Jesus conquered death once and for all on the cross and His continual outpouring of Himself through the sacraments gives us the opportunity each day to be strengthened by Him. All Jesus asks of us is to receive Him.
Today, reflect on Peter’s words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and receive the gift of His saving power into your heart. God’s grace is sufficient even in the midst of heresy and scandal. Allow your heart to be encouraged knowing that Jesus is the chief shepherd.