Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Will Give You The Keys

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Sharing the Light of Christ

Francis and and his brothers could have been killed spreading the Gospel. In bringing near the kingdom of heaven, the brothers were engaging in one of the oldest of dramas in which the battle between darkness and light is played out. It was not so much a battle in which they fought the darkness, as it was the ongoing battle with themselves to keep bearing the light, to keep bringing near the kingdom and not giving up, even when they were rejected. For even in rejection they are bringing near the kingdom. And even if they were martyred for proclaiming these words of Jesus, they were not overcome by darkness; they were yielding to the light.

—from the book Francis and Jesus by Murray Bodo
franciscan media


"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

"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
The Liturgy of the Hours IV


Enshrined in the beautiful Bernini reliquary in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is the relic of the actual Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, venerated because it was from that very chair that the first Pope, the Vicar of Christ, imparted the Christian faith which was entrusted to him by Jesus Christ, and which has been passed on for 2,000 years through the Catholic bishops, and will continue until Christ returns. The Chair of St. Peter is a symbol of the authority and primacy of the first Bishop of Rome, and, through communion with the Roman Pontiff and his successors, the unity of the Universal Church. The feast day of the Chair of St. Peter is celebrated on February 22nd.

"I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love."
Ephesians 3:16-17


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Chair of Saint Peter

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.


Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Reading I 1 Pt 5:1-4

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.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 16:18
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

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."


Meditation: Matthew 16:13-19

The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle (Feast)

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. (Matthew 16:18)

Repotting a plant is a stressful but essential step in keeping it strong and healthy. You might have a small plant that seems happy but is bursting out of its pot. So you replant it into a larger pot so that the roots have room to grow. For a week or two, however, the poor plant doesn't look so good. It might wilt or look sickly in its new home. But after a little while, it takes off again. Roots begin spreading again. Stems shoot up. Leaves sprout and produce abundant flowers.

This is similar to what happens to Simon Peter in today's Gospel reading. Peter had grown to the point of acknowledging that Jesus was Israel's Messiah. So Jesus could see he was ready to be replanted into a new environment. By giving him a new name and placing him in a new role, Jesus gave him the chance to grow even more. Peter was very likely shocked by this transition. It wasn't an easy shift, but it was worth it. Just think about all that Peter was able to accomplish once his roots in Christ were fully established.

Today's feast of the Chair of Peter celebrates his role as head of the Church. And it's a great chance for you to reflect on how you are doing. Perhaps, like Peter, you are starting to burst from the confines of your little pot. Maybe you faltered when God moved you into a new responsibility. Yet looking back, you can see how God's grace helped you grow and bear fruit.

Replanting might feel stressful at the time, but it's an effective way to foster growth and fruitfulness—in plants and in people. Each time God replants you, he does it to help you grow and thrive. You might have faced the challenge of a new role in your family or a new season of life. Either way, you can trust him and embrace each new situation because you know he is taking care of you. As a careful gardener does for a plant, God will provide what you need to grow to your fullest potential.

"Lord, thank you for the times you have replanted me so that I could grow."

1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-6


"Tend the flock of God in your midst". In your midst, God puts a flock. Cherish it. Tend to it. And if there is nothing else to feed it, feed it love. Pope Francis says that a shepherd must smell like his sheep. What does that mean? It means get off your high and mighty chair of pointing the finger and giving ideas and commands, and get your hands dirty, serving, feeding, and all things tending. There is nothing better than seeing a priest really involved and caring and being loving. But the same could be said of any baptized soul, being so involved, and caring, and loving. I'd hate to think of the opposite...which is often the case.

Let us pray: "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." 3 things were in the old ark of the covenant, manna (bread from heaven), the commandments (the tablets), and a staff, that had budded. That staff has budded because the new covenant is Jesus, He is the bread, He is the commands, and He is the staff. (The new Ark is Mary). Saint peter was given the staff of shepherding, feeding, tending to the sheep.

Jesus said to Saint Peter, our first Pope, ""Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah..... you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church". Need the sign of Jonah? How about the son of Jonah? There are important things Jesus left us with: The chosen leader Peter, His Mother, and His most precious Body in the Eucharist. What else could we need in our world? The question He asks "who do people say that I am?" Who?

And what about you? ""But who do you say that I am?". Nevermind what the world has made Jesus out to be, WHO is Jesus to you?
"Don't say "Father"
unless you behave like a son or daughter.
Don't say "Our"
if you live isolated in your selfishness.
Don't say "Who Art in Heaven"
if you are thinking only of worldly things.
Don't say "Hallowed by Thy Name"
if you invoke God with your lips,
but your heart is far from Him.
Don't say "Thy Kingdom come"
if you confuse the material and spiritual kingdom.
Don't say "Thy Will be done"
if you don't accept what is painful.
Don't say "Give us this day our daily bread"
if you have no care for the people who are hungry.
Don't say "Forgive us our trespasses"
if you have anger towards your brother.
Don't say "Lead us not into temptation"
if you do not avoid the occasions of sin.
Don't say "Deliver us from evil"
if you do not do something to combat evil.
Don't say "Amen"
if you don't take sincerely the words of the Our Father.

I ask youth and adults "who is Jesus?" Generic answers ensue. Never have I heard "He everything".

So, Do say, Jesus is my Lord and Savior if He is all you live for, following His every command, beginning with ""YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' and then, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
The question comes to mind, about the death penalty. For those sitting on their high and mighty chairs they have set up for themselves, a murderer deserves the death penalty. I would love for these judges to get off their chairs and visit the guilty sinner, in his cell. Then decide, after spending three years with them, then decide if they deserve to die. If Jesus lives, the murderer will live. Because the murderer will have seen mercy and been transformed.
I invite you to smell like the sheep too. Pope Francis sits on the chair of Saint Peter, shepherding His flock, the flock of God. Pope means Papa, he has to shepherd a billion sinners. And everything falls on him, if a bad priest happens, it is somehow his fault, according to what the world says. If a bad catholic happens, it is somehow the pope's fault in some stereotypical views. So what does Pope Francis say? "Pray for me".

Pray for me because I am one of you and among you. Pray for me because I too need prayer. Pray for me because I have been tasked a daunting task beyond human comprehension. Pray for me because...I pray for you. Pray for me because I get tired and my mind gets tired. Pray for me, because I asked you to. Pray for me because, I love you.
Who do you say that I Am?
I Am A Soul In Love With God, our Father. I am here with you and for you....



First Thursday of Lent

"A good work done without devotion
is like a lamp without oil."
A good work done without devotion is simply for
show, meant only to impress someone else and not to express what is deep within a person's heart.
Under these circumstances, having an audience is more important than feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or any other corporal or spiritual work of mercy.
Some say that character is what you are when
you think that no one is looking.

Praying with Saint Anthony

God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, everything you
do reflects your overflowing love. Give us the courage to follow your example.

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