Humility is the guardian and ornament of all virtues. If the spiritual building does not rest on it, it will fall into ruin.
–Thomas of Celano
-from Peace and Good
"It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a man's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken." — St. Francis Xavier
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"When in your life of faith you are confronted with the deeper mysteries it is natural to become a little frightened. When this happens, take heart faithful Christian. Do not raise objections, but ask with loving submission, 'How can these things be?' Let your question be a prayer, an expression of love and self-surrender to God. Let it be an expression of your humble desire not to penetrate his sublime majesty, but to find salvation through the saving deeds of God our Savior." — Abbot William of Thierry, Vol. IV, p. 1778 AN EXCERPT FROM The Liturgy of the Hours IV
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Chair of Saint Peter
Saint of the Day for February 22
This feast commemorates Christ's choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church.
After the "lost weekend" of pain, doubt, and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, "The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter." John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: "…[T]hey did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead" (John 20:9). They went home. There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited fearfully behind locked doors. "Peace be with you," he said (John 20:21b), and they rejoiced.
The Pentecost event completed Peter's experience of the risen Christ. "…[T]hey were all filled with the holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.
Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: "… [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the Council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on them.
Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says, "…I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong…. [T]hey were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel…" (Galatians 2:11b, 14a).
At the end of John's Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go" (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his Lord with a martyr's death, probably in the company of many Christians.
Second-century Christians built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.
For more on Saint Peter's chair, click here.
Like the committee chair, this chair refers to the occupant, not the furniture. Its first occupant stumbled a bit, denying Jesus three times and hesitating to welcome gentiles into the new Church. Some of its later occupants have also stumbled a bit, sometimes even failed scandalously. As individuals, we may sometimes think a particular pope has let us down. Still, the office endures as a sign of the long tradition we cherish and as a focus for the universal Church.
Beloved: I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. 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. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6 R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. 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. R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage. R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Alleluia Mt 16:18 R. Alleluia, alleluia. You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 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."
Have you ever faced a big exam in school and found yourself caught in an ever-increasing cycle of worry and anxiety? "If I fail this, I'll fail the course. If I fail the course, I won't graduate. If I don't graduate, I won't get a good job . . ." and so on. Looking back now, you probably realize that one isolated event did not determine your entire future. That dreaded exam was one in a series of stepping-stones along the path.
We can look at this moment in Peter's life as a stepping-stone too. We celebrate this feast in part because Peter gave the right answer to Jesus' question. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and that became the foundation of both his own faith and his role as leader of the Church. But this was just one step in Peter's growth into his calling. He had other opportunities to answer this question in words and in actions—and he didn't always get it right. In fact, immediately after today's story, he rebuked Jesus for saying he would go to Jerusalem to suffer (Matthew 16:23). And just after the Last Supper, he denied three times that he even knew Jesus (26:69-74).
These mistakes were also steps on Peter's journey to becoming the leader we honor today. And that's the point. Jesus didn't ask this question merely to get a correct answer. He knew better than to think that Peter had everything down pat. He understood that his faith would grow over time, through "right" and "wrong" answers, just as our faith does.
Throughout our lives, we will be asked who we say Jesus is: as we struggle through sickness or a job loss, as we welcome a new grandchild, or as we pray during Eucharistic adoration. Each situation can help build our foundation, making us more confident. The more we tell Jesus we trust him, by words and by deeds, the surer our steps will become. And if we fall, he will help us back up and smile as we reaffirm our faith.
God wants each of us to keep moving forward. So take a step today, and see where it leads you.
"Lord, I trust you. Help me to say yes to you each step along the path of my life."
1 Peter 5:1-4 Psalm 23:1-6
"Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock." Saint Peter, our first pope, He never once said he wanted to be a leader. Yet, God chose Him. And great things are expected of him...and we too, are chosen, and great things are expected of us. Eye opening things are expected of us. Peter tripped, and he got back up, we too, may trip, but once we learned to walk, tripping is a thing of the past, very rare. Walk in the light of God's grace, and you can walk on water.
We pray "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want" and we can sing then, God is my everything, I lack nothing. Every desire in my life has been filled with God. I take in the body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist instituted by Christ at the last supper and passed on to the the Pope and bishops and priests to this day. I receive from the very hands of Christ....the Lord Himself served on a plate, and it tastes like purity, and it melts away into my body, and I pray that it melts into my heart.
In comes the Lord and chooses Peter to have the keys to the Kingdom "I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven." and says "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." These words are for all of us if we are the body of Christ and one with Saint Peter that continues in Heavenly union. He gave Him the keys to unlock the doors or to lock the doors. This past Sunday, Monsignor Bridges said in Holy Mass "You can't keep what you don't share". The Love of God and mercy and compassion is only given and kept if you keep pouring it out. I read one of the many reflections earlier this week, and I shared one line that I shared in group reunion, and it said that we are like candles, we are meant to be burned out, and this means the light must burn, and we must pour ourselves out. Saint Peter did, on a cross, and shared in the Glory of God. Someone texted me this morning Phillipians 1:29 "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for His sake". Suffering here means much. It means love. It means endurance. It means patience. It means to pour out.
And it's up to us, to share the love. It's up to us to be merciful, as our Father is merciful. It's up to us to defend what is right. But defending in this case my loved one, it means pouring out. Seeing with God's eyes and righting what is wrong into holiness with holiness.
Then, what we loose on earth and bind on earth means much. The meaning of life is here, and now. And it is Christ, our Lord, our Savior....our EVERYTHING