Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates together the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, a great celebration marking the unity of the Church through the leadership of the great Prince and leader of all the Apostles and his many successors throughout history up to this day. Today we remind ourselves of this unity we share as God’s one united people, in one flock of all the faithful, gathered together in His Presence and embrace.
We may find it strange that we are celebrating this Feast over a chair. What is so special about this chair that we are celebrating it in the first place? What is the significance of this Feast? As mentioned just earlier on, this Feast is a reminder of the unity that we as God’s people, from all the whole world share in the one Church, one leadership, with Christ as the Head of the Church, and with St. Peter and his successors as the Vicar of the one true Head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, our Popes.
The celebration of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter is not just a celebration over any random chairs or seats. Instead, we have to understand that in the context of the Church, the Chair here is the real and physical representation of the authority of the bishops as the seat of their authority. This seat is known as the Cathedra, from which the Cathedrals got their name from. It refers to the church where the Cathedra of the bishop is located at, as the physical and real symbol of his authority as the shepherd of the faithful in his diocese.
And for St. Peter the Apostle, who is the first Bishop of Rome and Pope, it is all the more special to all of us, for all of Christendom because he is not just like any other bishops, but he has been entrusted with the special role as the Vicar of Christ, as the one to lead the entire Universal Church. He and all of his successors have this special obligation and responsibility as the Vicar of the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, that the Chair of St. Peter is therefore that very powerful symbol of the universal authority and primacy that St. Peter and his successors, the Popes have on the entire Church.
Thus, while there is indeed an actual, physical chair used by St. Peter as a treasured relic that is placed at the Altar of the Chair of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, but this is not just what we are celebrating today. Rather, through this great Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, we remember and celebrate the continued unity of the Church, all the flock of the Lord’s faithful under the guidance and the leadership of the Successor of St. Peter, our Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, remembering how he and his predecessors from St. Peter have dedicated themselves to lead the people of God in this often turbulent world.
Today we remember the words of the Lord Himself, establishing and entrusting the Church to St. Peter, whose name means the ‘Rock’ so that the Church He has established may be built upon the firm foundation of the Rock of faith that is St. Peter, and assisted with the strength of the pillars of the faith of the Apostles. Because of this, the Church is united to the Lord, the Chief Shepherd of all, the Good Shepherd, through the many shepherds whom He had called and appointed to lead and guide His people, His flock, that is the Apostles and their successors.
Now, therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as God’s people and His Church, let us do our best in whatever we can do to remain strongly united as one people and one Church, obeying God’s truth, Law and commandments which He had revealed and passed to us through His Church, through our shepherds, the Apostles and their successors, our Pope and the many bishops and priests that had faithfully served Him through all the ages. Let us entrust ourselves in the Lord ever more and strive to work more for the unity of the Church and pray for our Pope in particular and for the other bishops as well.
Like what St. Peter exhorted to the faithful and the elders of the Church in our first reading today, in one of his Epistles, we hope that our bishops will continue to serve the Lord faithfully, for the greater glory of God, giving themselves humbly to bear witness to their faith and to show good examples to all the faithful on how they ought to be faithful to the Lord. Today, we all ought to help them in their governance of the Church by our continued support, prayer and companionship, to remind them that we are one community of God’s faithful people, and they are our shepherds.
Let us give them our fullest support and do whatever we can in our own capacity, making use of whatever opportunities that God has given to us, so that we may continue to grow ever closer to the Lord under the leadership of Francis, our Pope, the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle. May the Lord continue to bless him and all the other bishops, our shepherds, that they may continue to faithfully serve the Lord and be faithful and committed in their courageous efforts to proclaim the Gospel and the salvation in God, now and always. Amen.