Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute


Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

February 22, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry 


Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter – created in 1666

First Letter of Saint Peter 5:1-4

Psalm 23

Matthew 16:13-19

The “chair” in the title of today’s feast is not, of course, a piece of furniture.  It is the kind of “chair” that represents words such as “chairman” or “chairperson” or simply “the chair” as a title of the person in charge of a committee or department.  The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter celebrates the spiritual authority of the one who is called to exercise the role of Peter in the Church.  First by Peter, the first pope, all the way to Pope Francis.

Today’s reading from Saint Matthew illustrates the authority Jesus gave to “Simon” by the reference of “binding and loosing” exercised by a chief rabbi of a Jewish community.  First comes the wonderful “pun” that Jesus makes when He gives Simon the nickname “Rock” and says, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”  This underscores the reality that the faith community of Jesus’ followers is not a human construction but something built by the Risen Christ Himself. 

Then comes the language about the “binding and loosing.”  We have learned from history that a rabbi was said to “bind” when he interpreted how the Law is to be applied in certain cases.  “Loosing” referred to lifting the ban of excommunication.  The implication here is that Simon Peter is given and authority that counts as the exercise of divine authority in the earthly community of the Church.  To make sure that this power is used in the way of Jesus, the Gospel of John presents the same mandate of authority in the metaphor of sheep herding.  In the final chapter of John’s Gospel we hear the powerful exchange, “Simon, son of John do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.”  “Feed my lambs.”  As you know, this exchange is repeated two more times.

 I find it consoling the way that Peter’s successors, most notably the pope’s of our times, have taken to heart this teaching about the exercise of authority in the Christian community.  I do not believe it is a stretch to say that we who also exercise authority in that faith community, namely priests, deacons, pastoral assistants, parents, teachers, brothers, sisters, co-workers, pastors, committee chairs, and parish council presidents, are called to exercise authority in the same spirit.  The call is to guide and nurture and serve, and surely not “lord it over” others.

Question of the Day:  Will you exercise any authority that may come to you with compassion, right judgement and Christian fellowship?

Prayer:  “May God, who granted you to stand firm on apostolic foundations, graciously bless you through the glorious merits of the holy Apostle Peter.”  (Solemn Blessing: The Apostles – February 22, 2020)



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