Friday, February 22, 2008

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today's feast has always had somewhat of a personal connection for me, what with being named Peter and all. Long before I knew even what the Catholic Church was or how many different denominations had come and gone over the years I knew there was something special about this man with whom I shared a name. The very first time I read Matthew 16:18 - "[a]nd 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 knew it was this Church I had been seeking.

There are a veritable plethora of resources to which I could point you, dear reader, regarding the importance of the office (and hence the chair - think of it as representative of the office) of Peter and his successors. If you don't know them already first look at these Bible verses, then hit up some of the deeper Catholic resources. Catholic Answers is a great resource, as are Catholic-Pages and Catholic Culture. But let's move on to those Bible verses:

First, Luke 22:31-32:

"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."
There are further examples of Peter having the lead in the company of the Apostles:
  • In Matthew 16:16 we see Peter correctly identify Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God", leading to the statement of Jesus with which I started this post. Jesus' reply is extraordinarily telling: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Peter has been confirmed by the Father for a special mission.
  • In Acts 1:15 and following we find Peter taking the lead of the Apostles in the appointment of Matthias, the successor to Judas. This is a perfect example of the role of the Pope - to strengthen and to lead; Peter calls for the appointment, the Church prays and acts as one.
  • In Acts 2 we have Pentecost. Indeed, the tongues of fire came to rest on "all of them", but in Acts 2:14-40 we see Peter is the one who speaks for the Apostles giving what could be called the first homily.
If nothing else, these should whet your appetite even if you are one who does not believe in the primacy of the office of Peter. While I'm not much of an apologist, these arguments and the host more that follow from them are enough for me to know this much: Jesus founded a Church with himself as its immovable cornerstone and grafted Peter into Himself that he and his successors might become a rock of stability in all that would come to face the Church. It is, simply, something only God would have thought to do.

Image source.