FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF SAINT PETER, APOSTLE
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.”
The most important question we must answer is the one we read today, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers truly, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of God.
The cornerstone of our faith is the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah (Anointed one), the Son of God. He is not merely a holy man. He is not only the second person of the Trinity. He is true God and true man who was born to save all people of good will.
Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter because he received this truth from the Father. Peter was the conduit that the Father chose for this revelation and he was given the keys (foundations) of the Kingdom. Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who believe this foundation, receive the Holy Spirit. They are the children of God.
Jesus is the door to enter in faith to the kingdom but Peter was given the keys to open the door to the Jews and the Gentiles. Peter also locks it against the power of evil which Jesus warned was going to war against it. Heresy, factions, dissensions, and idolatry, have all attacked the Church but never triumphed.
Peter tells us in his letter why the apostolic succession was meant to preserve the foundations of the truth of who Jesus is. Peter himself witnessed the sufferings of Christ. He promised Jesus that he would tend his flock and feed them. He was meant to be an example to the flock just as Christ who offered himself out of love for us. And as always, God made him a promise of a heavenly reward for his service.
Today, let us pray for the man sitting on the chair of Peter, and for all bishops in the Church. We have the promise that the gates of hades will not have victory over her, so let us have confidence that God is with us in the battles that are raging.