February 23, 2017

Peter's chair

February 22, 2017:  Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

See 12 connections with today?
Legend below

Creation is a marvelous gift from God to us, so we can enter into relationship with him, recognize his love, and collaborate with him every day.  But when we sin, we break our communion with God and mar the original beauty of human nature and creation.  We damage our communion with what surrounds us and corrupt creation.  We see the consequences every day:  humanity loses its beauty and disfigures all around it; what pointed to the Creator and his love then carries the sign of pride and human voracity.
But the Lord doesn't abandon us; he offers us a new horizon of freedom and salvation.  Paul reminds us of this by inviting us to hear creation's groaning.  “If we listen, everything around us groans:  Creation groans; we groan; the Spirit groans in our hearts.  These groans speak of birth pangs; they're the groans of one who suffers but knows new life is coming.  Despite our failings, we know we're saved by the Lord, and we contemplate and experience signs of the Resurrection, of a new creation.  Christians live in the world, not outside; we read all things informed by Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ.  When we're discouraged or losing hope, the Spirit helps us keep our groans and hopes alive.  The Spirit sees beyond negative appearances and reveals to us the new heavens and earth the Lord is preparing.
  • 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:  ‘Chair’ is a title of the person in charge.  Today's feast celebrates the spiritual authority of the one called to exercise Peter's role in the church, from Peter to Pope Francis and beyond.  Jesus was concerned about how authority was to be exercised:   “Whoever wishes to be great among you will serve you; whoever wishes to be first will be the slave of all.  The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life....”
    Today's gospel illuminates the authority that Jesus gave to Simon, referring to the “binding and loosing” a chief rabbi exercised.  ‘Binding’ meant interpreting how the Law was to be applied in a certain case; ‘loosing’ meant lifting excommunication.  Peter was given great authority. To make sure it's used in the way of Jesus, John refers to the authority using the metaphor of sheep herding.  Recent popes have taken to heart the teaching of authority through love and service.  May we who exercise some authority in our communities do so in the same spirit, guiding, nurturing, serving...
      A real chair...
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Finding elusive Church unity":  We've paid a high price for disunity in the Church.  In one Spirit, we've been baptized into the one body of Christ, the Church. The Spirit makes the Church one.  The authority of the pope and bishops helps us grow in unity....
    • Passionist:  What someone says or does reflects the movements of their mind and heart.  Peter proclaims from the heart, “You are the Christ....”  From that point, he couldn't turn back; he knew Jesus was the Messiah and spent the rest of his days discovering how that would affect his daily living.  He learned to live in a way that matched his faith in Jesus as Son of the living God.  Our Feast and 1st reading tell us what Peter did for us and the Church.  Peter was a witness to Jesus' suffering, death, and Resurrection; he allowed Jesus to conform his mind and heart to the Messiah's.  Peter encouraged his presbyters and successors to watch over God’s People with love and tenderness.  Peter passed on a way to live our faith:  hold Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection in our hearts as Peter did.  Deal with one another in line with our faith.  Peter understood the keys of the Kingdom were given to open life in the Lord up to everyone.  The greatest witness to faith is a life lived according to Jesus' mind and heart of Jesus....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The keys of the kingdom of heaven":  Jesus was widely recognized as a mighty man of God, even like a great prophets, but Peter exclaimed he was the Messiah; only God could have revealed that to him.  "Peter said 'you are the Christ, the son of God.'  There are many christs [anointed ones] by grace, adopted [as children], but only one Son of God by nature.  In calling him Son of the living God, Peter indicates that Christ is life, and death has no authority over him.  Though he was weak in the flesh and died, he rose; the Word couldn't be held under the bonds of death" (Cyril of Alexandria, Fragment 190, paraphrased).
    Jesus plays on Peter's name, Greek and Aramaic for 'rock.'  It was a compliment to call someone a 'rock.'  When God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I've discovered a rock to found the world on."  Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus was.  The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house with members joined together as living stones.  Faith in Christ makes us into rocks, spiritual stones.  Jesus confers on Peter authority to govern the church Jesus would build.  "Christ is a rock never disturbed or worn.  Peter gladly received his name from Christ to signify the faith of the church.… The devil is the gateway of death who always stirs up against the church calamities, temptations, and persecutions, but Peter's faith, founded on the rock of Christ, abides unshaken. The keys of the kingdom have been handed down so that one bound on earth has been bound in heaven, and one set free on earth has been set free in heaven (Epiphanius, Interpretation of the Gospels 28, paraphrased).  The Lord offers us faith, hope, and love, and boldness to proclaim him as Savior bringing God's kingdom now and forever....
    • 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.
    • Universalis:  Today's feast, celebrated since at least the fourth century, signifies the unity of the Church founded upon the Apostles.
    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)
    • '?' 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 and tie pin):  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, green suspenders:  white for the feast, green for "verdant pastures" and Ordinary Time season, blue for "restful waters" (psalm)
    • 'Messiah' t-shirt (not seen):  "You are the Christ" (gospel)

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