February 22, 2016
Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Mt 16: 13-19
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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Who do you say that I am?
On this feast day I find myself grateful for the wisdom of our Lord in preparing a leader for us. Jesus pauses alone with the twelve. The teacher poses questions. To the first—Who do people say that I am?—various responses ensue. The second question however is personal—Who do you say that I am? Peter alone is ready to respond; he is aware of the truth and articulates it. Jesus anoints him and takes “fishers of men” to a new level. Peter is ready to provide leadership and strength.
In this moment I imagine awe and wonder. His role of leader is set and the structure of the church begins to take shape. Two thousand years later we are inspired by Pope Francis, Peter’s successor, calling us to mercy. Let us celebrate this feast by answering Jesus’ question. “Who do you say I am?”
—Erin Maiorca is the Associate Director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, Illinois where she is participating in a Spiritual Direction internship. Erin and her husband of 22 years have two sons, and their oldest attends St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago IL.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
—St. Augustine of Hippo
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