Daily Reflection
February 22nd, 2002
Tom Schloemer, S.J.
Career and Academic Planning
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Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, apostle
1Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Matthew 16:13-19

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter is not a celebration of furniture.  Since the fourth century, this feast has been celebrated as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that Apostle as recorded in today’s Gospel reading.  As a theological expression, the feast signifies the teaching authority of the Pope as successor of Peter.

Authority in the Church or elsewhere can be daunting if thought of in terms of hobnailed boots.  The task of leadership is service.  Peter himself in the first reading directs priests to give to those entrusted to them “a shepherd’s care.”  Such care involves deep concern and loving response with complete inclusiveness.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in providing a shepherd’s care has been the awakened respect since Vatican II for cultural differences within the Church.  The Council of Trent necessarily strove for unity after the Protestant Reformation.  Unfortunately, there was sometimes imposed a western European context and mindset that overlooked the richness of spirituality and liturgical expression of various cultures.  We are presently realizing the Hispanic, Native American, African American, Asian and other contributions to our American Church.

So we celebrate this feast, the Chair of St. Peter, mindful of the necessity and challenges of leadership and authority in the Church.  The model is given us by Jesus, namely, a shepherd’s care. 

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