Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus establishing his Church on “this rock” which was Peter. Not only is today a great day to remember to pray for the pope, it’s a good day to really reflect on what Jesus did.
Jesus could have called down a heavenly host of angels or raised up an army of immortals to host his Church, but instead he chose Peter. An uneducated fisherman, a human! An imperfect, fallible, sinner, just like us. Jesus wanted his Church to be built on us, the race he humbled himself to become a part of because his message and his Church is for everyone.
Now today’s feast also celebrates the literal chair of Saint Peter which is enclosed in a bronze throne sculpture. The sculpted throne is held up on all four corners by great Doctors of the Church. Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Athanasius. Not angels or great patriarchs but humans, imperfect, fallible, sinners like us.
It is our responsibility to defend and uphold the teaching of the Church and to not only spiritually support the successor to Saint Peter but physically. Today’s first reading from 1 Peter says “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.” (1 Peter 5:1-2) We were all Baptized “Priest, Prophet, and King.” At first glance you would think this reading only applies to the Priest but it goes much deeper. God calls us all to be a witness to his suffering and tend to his flock, our brothers and sisters.
So today I challenge you, be mindful of those in God’s flock. Help Pope Francis in his mission as universal leader of the Church in protecting and caring for them as Christ calls you too.