Meditation for the Day

Jesus gives the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Saint Peter

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle, February 22

We Take Comfort in Knowing That Christ Will Always Sustain His Bride, the Church, and Each and Every One of Us As Faithful Members of His Body.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church…”

Today, the Church celebrates the Feastday of the Chair of Saint Peter, a celebration that finds its liturgical origins in the fourth century. The “Chair”, of course, is the term applied to the position, the authority that was given to Peter. This can also be called the Petrine authority or the authority of the pope.

Peter, alone among the Apostles, was given the keys “to the Kingdom of Heaven”. In doing so, Jesus made Peter the spiritual head of the entire community of believers and placed the spiritual guidance of the faithful in his hands.

However, Peter was not without his faults. He was rash and was often reproached by Christ. He had fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of praying, as Jesus had asked him to do. And out of fear, he also denied knowing Christ three times during our Lord’s Passion!

But this Feast is not a feast of just about Peter; it is one in which we honor both him and all his successors in an unbroken line to our current pope, Francis I. If we read about Church history, I suspect our feelings will be mixed. Some of our past popes were saints and some were, to put it mildly, scoundrels.

But the institution of the papacy has survived not only scoundrels but also exile and imprisonment, plague and assassination, and, oftentimes throughout the history of the Church, accusations of just about every kind!

In more modern times, at least since the middle of the 19th century, most of the occupiers of the Chair of Peter have been fairly remarkable men, even if they have been a rather diverse group of shepherds, caring for the Church’s flock, tending to the Body of Christ with their own particular charisms.

If we recall the Gospel about Jesus’ temptation in the desert, and the various ways in which that temptation was expressed, we can better understand how various popes may have responded to similar temptations over the centuries, some with grace and some with weakness, and realize that God does not call perfect men to the ministry of the papacy, as we can so well see in the person of Peter as he is presented in the Scriptures.

Rather, for those whose hearts are humbled and open to Christ’s call, He perfects them for the needs of His Church through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, about which many can attest concerning the lives and papacies of Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II – holy and dedicated pastors in my own lifetime who truly left their mark on the Church.

“…upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” – words of reassurance which Christ gives to each of us today.

Whether one is Catholic or not, whatever we may think of the popes who have shepherded Christ’s flock, from Pope Francis I and including all his predecessors in an unbroken line back to Peter, today’s Feastday calls our attention to something Christ ordained for His Church long ago – a chief shepherd for His flock, a “servant of the servants of God” to which he is often referred, Christ’s Vicar here on Earth, feeding His sheep, tending to the spiritual needs of the Body of Christ throughout the ages of our Church’s history.

If nothing else, we can take comfort in the Holy Spirit, knowing that, no matter who is at the helm, the Church will always stay afloat, will always be protected from the storms which assail it, especially in these “end times”.

Yes, there are issues within the Church today which concern many faithful Catholics, including the threats of heresy and schism, but Christ will see His faithful remnant through the difficult days ahead!

This is our Lord’s promise to us, an assurance that He will always watch over and sustain His Bride, and each and every one of us as faithful members of His Body. And resting in His sure protection, the words of today’s psalmist become our own –

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.”

May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you.

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “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.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
  • “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.” (1 Peter 5:2-3)
  • “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
  • “He then said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’(John 21:16-17)
  • “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
  • “Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance.” (Micah 7:14a)
  • “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)
  • “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3a)

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Prayer for the Day

“All praise and glory are Yours, Lord Jesus;
You have made us Your Body, Your Church.
You call us to be one in Your Name,
so that we may give fitting praise to our Heavenly Father.

“You chose Peter as the rock,
entrusting to him and his successors the keys of the Kingdom.
You sent him to feed the sheep of Your flock
and to strengthen his brothers and sisters,
through faith in Your Most Holy Name.

“Continue to help Your Church
through the guidance of Your chosen Vicar on Earth.
Keep us faithful in Your service,
for You, Jesus, are our Dearest Brother and our Beloved Savior,
our Eternal Lord for ever and ever. Amen.”

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