February 22, 2018

Peter's Chair

February 22, 2018:  Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below

    Psalm 23 settings

    Vatican retreat from Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça
    The prodigal son:  The story of the prodigal son is not a parable but a mirror; it's about each of us.  Within us are suffocated feelings, things to be clarified, pathologies, threads to be connected, aspects of our lives that need reconciliation.  Jesus wants to give us his word in which conflicts and fear are transformed.  Only mercy, the excessive love God teaches us, can redeem us.
    The older son's behavior helps us understand God’s mercy even more.  Mercy has nothing to do with giving people what they deserve; it's offering what they don't deserve.  Mercy doesn't encase itself in one definition; it can be understood only if we allow it to incarnate itself within us so we might touch it.
    Mercy is always excessive.  A moderate person, one who wants to play it safe, will never understand the Gospel of Mercy because it requires that our love be excessive like the Father’s in the parable who understands everything without saying much.  The Father shows us mercy is gratuitous; it's the art of healing and rebuilding, the experience of forgiveness, the unexpected expression of tenderness, an excessive gift.
    Listen to the thirst of the peripheryKeeping our eyes open to see what's happening is essential to the spiritual life, or else we become comfortable and evade our responsibility.  God's voice confronts us with the primordial question, "Where is your brother?"  The spiritual question of thirst brings us nearer to the literal thirst that torments and limits the existence of so many. 30% of people don't have access to drinking water at home.  This thirst calls for an authentic conversion of lives and hearts.
    Jesus understands those who live on the periphery.  He was born in a periphery of Bethlehem, not the city.  He lived in Nazareth, one of the rare places in Palestine never named in the Old Testament.  And he proclaimed God's kingdom in improbable Galilee.  His message found its way into the periphery.  Even after his resurrection, he wanted to meet the disciples in the periphery: "He is going before you to Galilee."  Choosing the periphery is in the Christian's DNA.  It's where we encounter and re-encounter Jesus. Christianity is a peripheral reality.  For us, the periphery is not a problem but a horizon.  Only by moving out of itself can the Church discover new missionary ardor.
    • 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.”
    • Fr. Chidi Ekpendu homily video:  Pray for the Pope, bishops, priests; pray for all trying to undermine authentic teaching; and pray that we be faithful.
    • Creighton:  "Equipped for the call":  Jesus calls Peter to become the Rock on which Jesus builds the Church.  When Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Peter asserts, “The Christ, Son of the Living God!”  The appointment was made, but the gospels inform us of the long road ahead for Peter, from then, through his teaching and witnessing to his martyrdom.  His boldness faded away when he denied Jesus.  He witnessed Jesus' suffering and death, then received love anew from him after the Resurrection.  Sin, repentance, and forgiveness were part of his formation for his role in the early church.  At his profession of faith he knew Jesus' identity; at his forgiveness he knew his mercy, which came to fuel his life and death.  There's no more powerful moment of encounter with Christ than one that brings forgiveness.  Only God can forgive sin.  To encounter forgiveness is to encounter the Risen Lord's power, the memory of which fuels our life of faith and witness.  Today recall a "memory of mercy" and how it equipped you for your call....
    • A real chair...
    • One Bread, One Body:  "'Rock'-ing chair":  Jesus, the Carpenter, probably built several chairs, each with a firm foundation to prevent toppling and give confidence to the one seated.  Jesus is also "Head of the Church"; he built it on Peter and his successors.  Jesus built the chair of Peter, not from wood but from the pope's authority, to last forever.  The one seated there won't topple because of the Builder's skill; not even the powers of hell can prevail against the Church.  When Jesus is seated on another chair, the Judgment Seat, and asks for an account of our life, how will we say we respected and followed his authority?
    • Passionist:  A man who found little meaning in life stumbled into a village, saw a line of people ascending a mountain, discovered they were heading to see a Holy Man to gain wisdom; he got in line.  Others shared their food and water with him till all ran out; he offered to go down for supplies so long as they saved his place.  The routine repeated itself more as they ascended.  The drifter had grown muscular and lean with his trips and became more concerned about the others than himself.  When it was his turn to see the Holy Man, a man escorted him down several corridors to a large door, then led him out, said goodbye, and was about to shut the door when the drifter said he wanted to see the Holy Man to obtain wisdom.  The man replied, “I'm the Holy Man.  Everything you need to know about a happy life you learned as you made your way up the mountain.  Go be happy.”  Sometimes you stumble into the person and circumstances you need but don’t know it till one day it makes sense.  Peter followed Jesus, heard him teach and preach, and saw him heal.  They were all isolated wonders till all came together and Peter exclaimed, “You are the Christ,” and life was never the same.  There were hardships, ups and downs, sin and forgiveness, but he saw the Holy Man.  The change came when Jesus commissioned Peter.  Peter had learned shepherding while following him; now he commissioned Peter to bring that learning to others, as in the 1st reading.  Perhaps Peter is telling us, see Jesus as your Messiah.  See and hear in his life the fulfillment of prophecy.  See Church history proclaiming him as Messiah and bringing wholeness and happiness to all seeking wisdom.  From the Chair of Peter, we discover our faith and responsibility to make it known through our lives.
    • 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.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The keys of the kingdom":  Jesus was widely recognized as a man of God, like a great prophet, 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....
    • 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)
    • 'Castle' button:  "I shall dwell in the Lord's house..." (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 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, blue for restful waters (psalm)
    • 'Messiah' t-shirt (not seen):  "You are the Christ" (gospel)
    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

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