Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle
Monday 22 February 2016
On the 22nd of February the Roman Catholic Church celebrates one of the most unusual feasts in the liturgical calendar. Today we remember not a person or an event, but the throne of St. Peter Apostle. The feast was known in the Church since the fourth century under the Latin name Natale Petri de cathedra. In the fourth century St. Damascus moved venerated cathedral (chair on which St. Peter was sited) to the baptistery of the basilica on Vatican Hill, where St Peter died. For centuries, this unique chair was revered by many pilgrims as a symbol of authority and unity in the Church. In the sixteenth century, the relic was moved (made up of many pieces of oak wood and bonded richly decorated with slabs of ivory) to the present St. Peter’s Basilica and placed in the apse, in the main altar, in the magnificent setting of marble, which was designed by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, chief architect of the basilica itself, as well as the colonnade at the St. Peter’s Square.
(1 Pt 5, 1-4; Mt 16, 13-19.)
In today’s Gospel Jesus is with his disciple in Caesarea Philippi. The name comes from Philip – the son of Herod the Great, who after his father’s death as an expression of gratitude to Caesar made this city the capitol of his Tetrarch. In the time of Jesus, the Caesarea was the territory of the heathen, in which widespread was the cult of the god Pan. Temple of god was located on the mighty rock where there was a gap considered the gate of hell. On this rock, Jesus asks his disciples a fundamental question about his identity. “Who do people say that the Son of man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus said to them: “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon Peter first discovers the identity of Jesus and then Jesus reveals his identity. “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. ”
We are revolving by a circle of messages concerning Christian morality and doctrine, multiply by media and people in our neighbourhood – sometime very confusing, therefore being convinced of my Christian identity is very important part of my life. But, being mature Christian is a process; only through my constant spiritual reflection and relation with Christ I may intensify my conviction of belonging to my church community. I am fortunate in the Roman Catholic Church that through the sacramental life I may renew and expand my relation with Jesus. He allows me to feel his presence in the tabernacle and through my prayer and meditation, examination of conscience, participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, Christ helps me to restore the balance of mind and spirit.
Let this time of Lent in the Year of Mercy be for you and me once more given opportunity to refresh our relation with Christ and witness about Him in our society as Christians practising our spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
+Bishop Adam Musialek SCJ
Diocese of De Aar