Liturgical Colour : White
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a very important feast in our Church and in our faith, that is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle. Some of you may ask, why do we celebrate the feast for a chair? What is its importance? That is because the Chair mentioned here is the Cathedra of St. Peter, the Cathedra Sancta Petri, the seat of St. Peter which is today at Rome, at the heart of Christendom.
The Cathedra symbolises the seat of the bishop, and therefore represents the teaching authority of the bishop in teaching the faith. This also applies therefore to St. Peter, who was the very first Bishop of Rome, and the Vicar of Christ, leader of all the Universal Church, the one whom Jesus had entrusted to lead and guide His beloved people, the faithful ones in the Church.
Therefore today, we commemorate the faith of Peter, the teaching authority and the very authority that had been granted to Peter by the Lord Himself. Peter had been set aside by the Lord to be the universal shepherd, the one and only leader of all His faithful, because of his frank and sincere profession of faith, which he made and which we witnessed in today’s Gospel.
Peter showed his faith by proclaiming without fear that Jesus is truly the Lord, the One whom God had sent into this world to save it. Peter is the rock upon which God had established His Church, to be the strong foundation for that Church, and as a focal point for all of His faithful, a point of reference and unity. That is why, our Pope, as his successor, is the leader of the entire Universal Church.
Peter was not perfect, and he had his flaws just as all of us do. He had wavered in his faith many times, and as you all knew, that he even denied knowing his Lord, not once but three times. And yet he was still chosen, and the Lord forgave him after His resurrection, asking him three times to show his love for Him, and in doing that forgave him and gave him a new task in life.
And Peter, being appointed to such an elevated position, did not take pride in it, but instead remained humble and serve the Lord with zeal and humility. Peter gave himself completely to the service of God, until the end, when he gave up his life in martyrdom in Rome. He worked hard for the spread of the Good News and for the good of the people of God.
When he was persecuted and about to die, when the Roman Emperor Nero pressed hard on Christians, Peter accepted the death gracefully and with great humility. He remained faithful to the end, and showing his faith, love and devotion to the Lord, when he was about to be crucified, he asked not to be crucified in the same way as Jesus and thus was crucified upside down.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this humble little man, Simon Peter the fisherman of Galilee, God had found a great servant and a holy person. He was called by Jesus to follow Him, and without question, he went to follow Jesus. Despite all the tribulations, temptations and downfalls that he had experienced, Peter persevered, and became the beacon of light for all the faithful.
As is often mentioned in the Scriptures, it is not man who decide to be worthy of. God, but it is in fact God who made mankind worthy and chose them to be His instruments for the salvation of mankind. Such was why the Apostles, in particular Peter were chosen. In them, who were lowly and humble men, God found the love and dedication which others did not or did not yet have.
Today, we celebrate this feast of the Chair of St. Peter to commemorate that glorification of the humble man, taken from Galilee to be the chief servant of the Lord, and became the foundation upon which the Church we know of today was built on. This small man God had made to be His right hand man, and to be the chief of the shepherds of His people, to fish them from all over the world, and bring them to Him.
Such was indeed the very heavy responsibility that Christ had entrusted to Peter, to be the cornerstone and the foundation of the Church that He had established in is world. And that responsibility is passed on through his successors down to his current successor, currently our Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, and leader of the entire Universal Church.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today therefore pray for the Pope and all those who support him in his works, that he may persevere in the mission which the Lord had given him, that is to continue the works of St. Peter the Apostle. Just as St. Peter had been told to be a fisher of man, our Pope as his successor too is a fisher of man, still continuing the same mission Christ entrusted to Peter as the mission of His Church.
Yes, and we also have part to play in that mission, brethren, to be the fishers of men as well. It is also our mission to be the ones to spread the Good News to all parts of the world, especially to those who have yet to see the light of God. Let us keep alive our faith in God, and let us obey the teachings of the Church, which Peter and his successors has kept throughout time.
Today we commemorate the authority of Peter as the leader of the faithful, and it also serves as a reminder to keep us faithful to the Lord as Peter had been. It is alright for us to falter at times, because just like Peter, we are all also human beings, we are imperfect and we sin, we make mistakes. What is crucial is, can we turn that imperfection to perfection in Christ? Can we devote ourselves fully to God and change our ways as Peter had done?
May our Lord Jesus Christ see our love and devotion, and bless us as He had blessed Peter His Apostle. May our faith too grow strong with a strong foundation, that we will never go astray from the path of the Lord, and remain faithful to Him all our lives, and may return to Him if we have fallen away from His path. God bless us all. Amen.