Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
This is a great day for all of us to reflect on the great gift that God offers the Church through the office of Peter. It is a day that is especially dear for those of the Anglican tradition who are joined to the Holy See in a special way through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, who celebrate their titular feast today.
There are those who mock Peter and his successors for their manifold faults and failings. Exegetes agree that the accounts Peter’s foibles in the Gospels are credible, in part because the early Christian community would have little “public relations” benefit from presenting the often impetuous character of the one that Jesus left in charge. It would be more “fitting” for God to have chosen a wise and prudent man, slow to speak and considered in action. Or would it? For this is not what Jesus Christ did.
After the resurrection, Jesus walked among us for forty days. Jesus knew our weakness, and Peter had just recently betrayed him three times on the very evening when Peter had declared, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Mt 26:35
). If Jesus’ dogma had been that of the secular opinion-makers of our own day, he might have said, “you guys just don’t get it. I’ve had enough of you getting things wrong. I’m staying, and I’m going to be the one in charge, from now on.” But that’s not what Jesus said, and that’s not who Jesus is. If you want to know what Jesus says, read John 21
. For each of Peter’s sins, Jesus offered Peter a new and superabundant love for the Lord and a renewed command to care for Jesus’ own precious flock, promising him the grace to do this. After entrusting the Church to Peter, Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to teach the Church all things. This is God’s doing. Jesus is with us always, even until the end of the world, and his glory is all the greater in that he uses imperfect instruments such as ourselves to accomplish his most holy will. The bumbling Peter and those who hold his place bear witness to this up to the present day. God himself built the rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
February 22nd, 2016