February 22, 2016

Peter's Chair

February 22, 2016:  Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

Find 14 connections with today?
Legend below

Psalm 23 settings
Pope Francis
Homily to Curia members:  Pastors, model yourselves from God, who takes care of his flock, looks for the lost sheep, returns them to the fold, cares for the wounded, and heals the sick ones.  This is the sign of boundless love, of faithful, constant, unconditional dedication, so his mercy may reach even the weakest.  Cultivate and practice a strong pastoral attitude, especially towards those you meet every day.  May no one feel neglected or mistreated; may everyone experience the Good Shepherd's loving care.
Worship in Spirit and Truth:  A spiritual revisitation of Sacrosanctum Concilium Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Lenten sermon
Vatican II:  tributary, not river 
Bl. Cardinal Newman asserted that stopping development of tradition makes dead tradition, not living tradition.  Tradition is like music.  What would it be like if it repeated one note endlessly?  After Vatican II there was a revival of the Holy Spirit; the Church became more clearly aware of his presence and action.
We can reread the Council in light of its fruit.  Councils can have effects the participants didn't intend.  The Council of Ephesus, with its definition of Mary as Theotokos, intended to affirm the unity of the person of Christ, but its clearest fruit was increasing Marian devotion.
If there's an area where the theology and life of the Church has been enriched since the Council, it's regarding the Holy Spirit.  Christian denominations have affirmed what Barth coined “the Theology of the Third Article,”  a theology that begins with the article on the Spirit, taking into account both end product and sequence by which faith and its creed were formed.  It was by the light of the Spirit that the apostles discovered Jesus and his revelation of the Father.  The Church's creed is perfect, but it reflects the end product, not the path to it.  We must know the path to faith, not just its codification.
In this light, the implications of certain Council affirmations appear more clearly, as well as omissions to be filled in, particularly about the Spirit's role.  “The work of renewal of the Church, providentially set forth and initiated by Vatican II,... can be carried out only in the Spirit, i.e., with the aid of his light and power” (St. John Paul II). [to be continued]
  • 1 Pt 5:1-4  Presbyters, tend God's flock in your midst, overseeing willingly and eagerly.  Be examples.  When the chief Shepherd is revealed, you'll receive the crown of glory.
  • Ps 23:1-3a, 4-6  "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want."  I fear no evil; you give me courage.  Goodness and kindness follow me; I shall dwell in the Lord's house.
  • Mt 16:13-19  Jesus / disciples:  “Who do they say the Son of Man is?” / “John the Baptist, Elijah,... a prophet.” / “Who do you say I am?”  Peter:  “The Christ.” / “My Father revealed this.  You are Peter; upon this rock I'll build my Church.  I'll give you the keys to the Kingdom.  What you bind/loose on earth shall be bound/loosed in heaven.”
    • Creighton:  If, as Peter confesses, Jesus is the son of the living God, then we must pattern our lives after his. / The papacy isn't just a Catholic thing:  Jesus told Peter to “feed my lambs; tend my sheep”; that involves a unifying function.   Acts provides two practical examples:  Peter’s role in resolving the dispute over the widows of the Hellenists, and in the 'Council of Jerusalem.'    In both cases, Peter found a compromise outcome both sides could live with, and live together as one body.  The readings tell us the tendency to be divisive, to fight, goes way back, but it's reversible.  Also, feeding and tending is also our responsibility.  We're called to support efforts at unification and reconciliation, within the church and in society.
      A real chair...
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Jesus' gift of the papacy":  Jesus made Peter head of the apostles. The early Church believed Jesus wanted Peter to have successors, and there's no biblical evidence to the contrary.  Though the Church is founded on Christ, the apostles and their successors, the bishops, bishops have not always been united; e.g., most of them denied the divinity of Jesus during the Arian controversy.  During the "Reformation," every English bishop except St. John Fisher held that King Henry VIII was head of the Church.  Without a pope, we don't always know what the Church teaches, and the Church sometimes wouldn't be "pillar and bulwark of truth."   The Pope is called to exercise authority and give the Church "a shepherd's care...."
    • Passionist:  In ancient Rome, families remembered their dead at a February feast with an empty chair.  Since the early Christians didn't know the day Peter died, they placed a chair for him and Christianized the Roman practice.  The chair came to symbolize the authority of Peter and his successors and the doctrines they handed on.
      Peter was the leader Jesus chose to tend the flock; he chose him because of his strengths and abilities as well as his weaknesses.  Jesus understood Peter’s mistakes would make him a more understanding, forgiving, compassionate shepherd.  In the 1st reading, Peter offers his assistant shepherds advice from experience:  tend the flock by example, not power, remembering the Risen Lord is the Chief Shepherd and we his disciples.  Merge your mind and heart with his.  Today we're called to reflect on our first shepherd as a main component in the construction of the chair.
        Peter likely knew Jesus is the Christ from his observation of him, listening to his teachings, and following him over the years.  The Spirit fertilized Peter’s mind and heart to prepare him for the moment it would make sense.  Living a disciple's life made it possible; this is behind Peter’s exhortation to lead by example.  Living your faith speaks most eloquently of the Gospel.  If we live and deal with our problems reflecting Jesus' mind and heart, then we provide fertile ground for the expansion of the Kingdom.
          So remember and honor the authority and doctrine vested in and handed down by Peter, Peter himself who shepherded by example, and the disciple's life he discovered and lived.
          • About "binding and loosing" (gospel, original in future perfect despite English translations), linked to Sacrament of Reconciliation, see my original post with exegetical links, related speculations, plus links to online resources for comparing and exploring original and translated Bible texts.
          Last Wednesday, Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ gave one night of our parish mission.  Hear him now, and this weekend at the Religious Education Congress.
          Dress legend
          • 'Sheep' tie bar:  The Lord is my shepherd (psalm); Tend God's flock... (1st reading)
          • 'Crown' tie bar:  ...and you'll receive the unfading crown of glory (1st reading)
          • 'Cups' tie:  My cup overflows (psalm)
          • '?' tie pin:  Who do people say the Son of Man is?  Who do you say I am?  (gospel)
          • 'Blood drop' pin:  "Flesh and blood didn't reveal this to you..." (gospel); Peter's martyrdom
          • 'Rock' tie pin:  Upon this rock I'll build my church (gospel)
          • 'Keys' tie pins:  I'll give you the keys to the Kingdom (gospel)
          • 'Knot with two jewels' tie bar:  jewels for earth and heaven, knot for bind/loose "syncing" (gospel)
          • White, green, and blue shirt:  white for the feast, green for "verdant pastures," blue for "restful waters" (psalm)
          • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

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