22 February – Feast of Chair of Saint Peter, the Apostle
The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome, Italy has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on Jan 18, in commemoration of the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on Feb 22. At each place a chair (cathedra) which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass was venerated.
-Patron Saint Index
1 Peter 5:1-4
Now I have something to tell your elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed. Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you
The feast of today is not to celebrate a physical object but what the Chair stands for. The feast is to remind us of the importance of the link to the Holy Father and the need to always remember what the purpose of the Papacy is. Some people feel the Papacy is like a dictatorship subject to the whims and fancies of one man who is distant away from the realities of the ground. This is clearly not the case and indeed what the role of the Papacy is found in the readings of today.
St Peter shares that elders are supposed to be an example for others to follow. This is something which we can understand today especially in the person of Pope Francis. He shows to us the need for Mercy in an age where there is a hardening of attitudes towards people who do not share similar beliefs. Indeed this is perhaps the best example we can draw from in today’s age. The world is yearning for an example of a person who can accept us for who we are and not the expectations of the world. The feast of today helps us to focus on what truly matters in our lives; which is the example of our faith through action and charity towards others.
We can follow the words of St Peter by proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of the Living God but it is through our actions that others will know that Jesus is our Lord and God. It has been said that “We read the Gospel everyday but to others, we could be the only Gospel that others would read in their entire lives” As we celebrate this feast, let us not forget the purpose of our lives; which is to allow others to make God manifest through us to others.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer – Dear Father, we pray for the patience to touch the lives of others
Thanksgiving – We give thanks for all who show us what it means to be a Christian.