Thought for the Day – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
Today’s celebration highlights the role of Peter and his Successors in steering the barque of the Church across this “ocean”…. Let us thank God together for founding His Church on the rock of Peter. As the opening prayer suggests, let us pray intensely that amid the upheavals of the world, she may not be shaken but advance with courage and trust.
By virtue of the transforming experience of the Good Shepherd, Peter described himself, in his Letter to the Churches of Asia Minor, as “a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed” (1 Pt 5: 1). He urges “the elders” to tend the flock of God and become examples to it (cf. 1 Pt 5: 2-3). Today, dear friends, this exhortation is addressed particularly to you, whom the Good Shepherd has wished to associate in the most eminent way with the ministry of Peter’s Successor. Be faithful to your mission and ready to lay down your lives for the Gospel. The Lord is asking this of you, and the Christian people who have gathered around you today with joy and affection expect it of you.
“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22: 32). This is what the Lord said to Simon Peter at the Last Supper. Jesus’ words, fundamental for Peter and his Successors, also spread light and comfort to those who cooperate more closely in their ministry. Today, …Christ is repeating to each of you: “I have prayed for you” that your faith will not fail in the situations in which your fidelity to Christ, to the Church, to the Pope, may be put to the greatest test.
May this prayer, which never ceases to flow from the Good Shepherd’s heart, always be your strength! Have no doubt that just as it was for Christ and for Peter, so it will be for you: your most effective witness will always be one that is marked by the Cross. The Cross is God’s chair in the world. On it Christ has offered humanity the most important lesson, that of loving one another as He has loved us (cf. Jn 13: 34): even to the ultimate gift of oneself.
The Mother of Christ and of the disciples, Mary Most Holy, always stands beneath the Cross. The Lord entrusted us to her when He said: “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19: 26). Since the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church, protected Peter and the Apostles in a special way, she will not fail to protect the Successor of Peter and his collaborators. May this consoling certainty encourage you not to be afraid of trials and difficulties. But, reassured by God’s constant protection, let us obey together the command of Christ, who vigorously asked Peter, and with him the Church, to put out into the deep: “Duc in altum” (Lk 5: 4). Yes, dear Brothers, let us put out into the deep, let us cast our nets for the catch and let us “go forward in hope!” (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 58).
Christ, the Son of the living God, is the same yesterday and today and forever. Amen!…Excerpt from the Homily of St John Paul on Thursday, 22 February 2001, Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair
St Peter Pray for Holy Mother Church, Pray for us all!