St. Peter’s Chair: Feb 22nd

1 Peter 5:1-4
Peter talks about service: Watch over those entrusted to your care.

A woman bought a beautiful, old porcelain pitcher. It was cream colored with red and blue flowers painted delicately on its surface. It soon became one of her cherished possessions. One day someone dropped the pitcher, breaking it into many pieces.
The woman gathered the pieces together, sorted them out, and began to glue them together. As she worked over the pitcher, she thought of how God labors over broken members of the human family. The people we write off as hopeless, God labors to restore and make beautiful again. What God does, we too should do.
How generously do we serve those entrusted to our care? “God sells us all things at the price of the labor (Leonardo da Vinci)
The Chair of St. Peter (Latin: Cathedra Petri), also known as the Throne of St. Peter, is a wooden throne, encased in bronze, that is physically in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Essentially it is an elaborate chair. 
But there is a profound symbolic meaning in the chair. The chair is described as "a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity." (Pope Benedict XVI) It is a mission entrusted to Peter, as we heard in the gospel, and not just to Peter but also to his successors. Hence this feast also traces for the present universal Church its Apostolic succession right up to Peter. In that sense, Pope Francis is called the successor of St. Peter, and he inherits the same apostolic authority that was given to St. Peter. And this authority is to be used for teaching the truth and to serve with humility, as we heard in the 1st reading, and also to keep the Church united as the Body of Christ so as to be a sign of salvation to the world.

But in recent times, many terrible scandals have rocked the Church to its foundations and the Church have sunk deep into crisis with heresies and schisms. Yet, this feast of the Chair of Peter reminds us that the Church is built on rock and the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. We take comfort and consolation that these are the words of Christ Himself, who is the Head of the Church.

May the celebration of this feast also bring about blessings for the Church to strengthen the faith and keep pressing on with the mission of salvation.We must also keep alive the hope that our prayers will bring about the light of Christ shining through the Church in a darkened world.



The liturgy celebrates today not so much that Peter was the bishop of Rome than what his function is. In answer to Peter’s profession of faith, Jesus appoints him the Rock on which the Church is built. As Peter himself knew very well, the shepherd is the model of his flock, dedicated to the service of the people of God. 

Opening Prayer 
Almighty God, you have given us the witnessing of the apostles as the firm rock on which we can rely. Where Peter is, there is the Church. But we see today that the bark of Peter is rocked; we are often like capricious children unused to our newfound freedom. Make us use this freedom responsibly and do not allow us to lose our composure. Reassure us that you are always with us and keep us optimistic about the future, for it is your future and you are our rock for ever.

The impetuous Peter, who famously lacked courage later on, had courage on this occasion. “You are the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the Living God.” Jesus confirmed this with extraordinary emphasis, “It is not fresh and blood that revealed this to you, Peter, but my Father in heaven.” He said to Peter, equivalently, “You have spoken with the voice of God!” Peter must have been walking on air. But not for long! Later, when they were coming down the mountain and Jesus began to speak about the suffering and death he would have to face, Peter protested strongly (he was probably still feeling very important after that extraordinary confirmation). “Get behind me, Satan!” said Jesus, with fury. (It must have been with fury, because these were extraordinarily harsh words.) Poor Peter! —speaking one moment with the voice of God, and next moment with the voice of Satan! The heights and the depths! Of all the people in the New Testament he was the least like a rock! That nickname must have been a joke. But Jesus said to him, “On this Rock (petros, in Greek) I will build my Church.” Rocks are unchangeable, immobile—and also dead; but Peter was highly changeable, and a very living being. 

– For the Church in our day, that the Holy Spirit may guide it through the present pains of renewal, keep it faithful to the Gospel and speak its message in the language of our time, we pray: Lord, remember your Church.
– For the Pope, Peter’s successor, that he may be our rock of faith and the sign of unity of the Church, we pray:
 – For our bishops, that they may exercise their authority as a service to building community; for priests and religious, that they may bear witness to what they preach by their way of living the Gospel, we pray:
– For missionaries, that they may proclaim the Gospel as Good News for all and help each people and culture to encounter Christ each in their own way, we pray: Lord, be with the Church until the end of time, as promised by Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Accept our prayer and gifts, Lord God, and guide your Church to your safe port. Help us to rid ourselves of the dead-weight of cumbersome, self-made human traditions and teach us, in a way adapted to our times, to seek the ageless renewal given us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord for ever. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, on this feast of your apostle Peter you have nourished us with the body and blood of Christ. We pray you today: May the unifying force of the Eucharist dispel all unhealthy division in the Church. May there be no unbridgeable chasms between us but may legitimate differences of thought lead to a deepening of our faith. May all co-exist in peace and unity as we seek to understand your message better. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. 

Who do we say who Christ is? With Peter we profess that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.