Friday, 22 February 2019 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the occasion of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, bringing us into focus to the Chair or the Seat of authority which St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Apostles has, in his position as God’s own Vicar on earth, as the one to whom God had entrusted His own Church, all the collective body of the whole faithful, the Church of God, which He has built upon the firm foundation of the Rock of faith, St. Peter, His Vicar.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is so significant about this ‘chair’ of St. Peter the Apostle that there is a special feast day to commemorate it? This chair does not refer to any physical chair, even though in St. Peter’s Basilica, there is indeed a wooden chair installed on the apse of the great Basilica, above the Altar of the Chair, which was one of the actual chairs that St. Peter has once used as the Bishop of Rome.

The meaning of the word chair here goes deeper in the sense that, the chair refers to the authority that the Lord has granted to His Apostles, and in this case, to St. Peter, the special authority above all the other Apostles and disciples, as their leader and therefore as the leader of the entire Universal Church, as the Vicar of the true Head and Leader of the Church, Christ Himself.

Each bishops of the Church have a chair or cathedra, their seat of authority, which is located in the church called cathedrals precisely because of the presence of this seat. And each of the bishops have been given the authority over their respective dioceses, which correspond to the flocks of the faithful people of God, and that authority is presented in the seat of authority, the cathedra of the bishop.

And for the Bishop of Rome, they are the successors of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, to whom a special authority has been granted, as the Gospel passage today mentioned, specifically that the Lord has entrusted His whole universal Church to the care and the leadership of St. Peter, whose name in Aramaic language means ‘Rock’, the rock of faith on which God built the foundations of His Church.

Therefore, the chair of St. Peter that the feast day today celebrates, commemorates that divine authority which has been given to the Church through its leader, St. Peter, as the one tasked, with the aid and support of all the other Apostles and leaders of the Church, with the governance and guidance of the direction of the Church, where it is moving towards and its efforts in evangelisation and in the salvation of souls.

Therefore today we are reminded of the great challenges that the Church is facing, in its numerous commitments and good works in our world today, in the evangelisation of the people of God, the spreading of the truth of the Gospel, in the salvation of souls and the works of God’s mercy, as well as the oppositions and challenges from all those who do not wish to see the work of God to be successful, especially those who are under the power and influence of Satan and his fellow deceivers.

And at the forefront of it all, is the Pope, as the successor of St. Peter, as the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ and leader of the entire Christendom, of all God’s faithful people. Of course, the Pope is not alone in bearing all the burdens of his office, as at the heart of it all, the Pope is at the same time also sharing his ministry of the episcopate with all the bishops, the successors of the Apostles.

Therefore, the Pope leads the efforts of the bishops of the universal Church, as the chief of the shepherds that God has appointed over His people, to guide the people and the souls of God’s beloved ones to the right path, leading them down the path towards God, while resisting the temptations, the falsehoods, the pressures and challenges that come from the world, from the devil and all forces seeking the destruction of us all.

And in all that we have seen in our present day world and in our Church today, the works of the Church, especially that of its leader, our Pope, our Supreme Pontiff and Christ’s Vicar is definitely not an easy one. There are plenty of challenges and obstacles, one after another, are adding up in the path that the Church is taking, in its journey through the tribulations and trials of the world today.

That is why, our role as Christians, that is as all those who compose the Body of Christ, the Church, is very important, as each and every one of us have important roles to play in our respective areas and specialties, to support the Holy Father, our Pope and leader, in the efforts and works that he is driving the whole Church through, amidst all the turbulences and challenges that we are facing together as the whole Church in this journey of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore grow in our devotion and commitment to God as Christians, as members of His Church, through our obedience to the Law and the commandments laid out by the Church, and trust ourselves to the leadership and guidance of our Holy Father, the Pope, the Vicar of Christ. Let us all do whatever we can in order to serve the Lord better, by making good use of the gifts and the talents that He had entrusted to each one of us.

May the Lord continue to watch over His Church, particularly as we are going through difficult moments and challenges, that the Church may continue to persevere through all of these difficult times, especially for the Pope, our leader, that he may continue to faithfully carry on the mission and works entrusted to him since the time of St. Peter, the first Pope. May God bless us always, and may He continue to love His beloved Church, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 22 February 2019 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 16 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them You are John the Baptist, for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Bar-Jona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.”

“And now I say to you : You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Friday, 22 February 2019 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Friday, 22 February 2019 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 5 : 1-4

I now address myself to those elders among you; I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, hoping to share the Glory that is to be revealed.

Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it not out of obligation but willingly for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward but with a generous heart; do not lord it over those in your care, rather be an example to your flock.

Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be given a crown of unfading glory.

Thursday, 22 February 2018 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate together the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, one of the celebrations commemorating the leader of Christ’s Apostles and His vicar on earth, besides that of the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul in the month of June. On this day, we are focusing on the Chair or indeed, better known as the Cathedra of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome and Pope.

Some of us might be wondering, why is it that we celebrate the feast of a chair, even if it is the Chair of St. Peter himself as the Vicar of Christ. That is because we must understand the importance of chair in the historical context of the Church. A chair is historically related as the symbol of power and authority, much as thrones are for kings and rulers. When a king or ruler is enthroned, he or she symbolically receives the power and authority to reign over his or her kingdom.

Similarly therefore, the chair for the bishops of the Church symbolises their authority, the authority to teach the Gospels and the truth of God to the people, as well as their administrative and spiritual authority over the flock and the people entrusted under his care. And throughout the dioceses in the world, there is a particular chair in each of the dioceses, in a particular church, named the cathedra as mentioned, as the seat of the bishop’s authority, and the churches with the cathedra are called cathedrals.

There is in fact an actual physical cathedra belonging to St. Peter in the Vatican, at St. Peter’s Basilica, where the chair that is supposed to be St. Peter’s actual chair of teaching is placed in the most prominent place above the high altar on the eastern end of the Basilica, underneath the famous and magnificent dove imagery representing the Holy Spirit. This signifies the authority of the Pope as the successors of St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome and as leader of the entire universal Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, nonetheless, the celebration today is much more than just the celebration of a physical and actual chair possessed by St. Peter at the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. In fact, this celebration is more about the authority which the Lord Himself has delegated to His vicar, St. Peter as well as to his successors as Bishop of Rome and Pope, in leading all the faithful people of God, His flock and faithful ones.

But if we imagine that St. Peter is someone who was amazing and great, glorious and mighty, then we ought to remember that he was once a mere poor fisherman trying out his best to make a living by fishing in the lake of Gennesaret or Galilee. It was as a poor, illiterate fisherman that the Lord Jesus encountered him and his brother, St. Andrew the Apostle. And many other Apostles and disciples of the Lord also came from humble and unremarkable origins.

Yet, the Lord chose them and called them to follow Him, and for some among them, He entrusted them to become the most important among all of His disciples as the Apostles because they had qualities in them which the Lord discovered, and which He deemed to be worthy. It was not us who make ourselves worthy, but God who makes those whom He called to be worthy.

And the tasks He entrusted to the Apostles were not easy ones, as challenges and difficulties were abound. They had to face persecutions and oppressions from various sources, from those who were against the Church, the teachings of the Lord and against whatever good works that they had done among the people. They had to endure prison, arrests and torture, sufferings and rejections from time to time.

St. Peter himself had to endure the same difficulties, as he travelled from place to place establishing the foundations of the Church in those places. When he was in Rome, Christians there were persecuted heavily at the reign of the Emperor Nero, and together with St. Paul, St. Peter himself was martyred during the reign of that Emperor. He suffered with his flock and remained true to his calling as a shepherd of the Lord.

He remained committed to the end, and humbly even requesting the Romans who were about to crucify him to put him on the cross upside down, as he felt it was not right for him to be crucified and died in the same manner and way as his Lord and Master. Through all of these examples, St. Peter had shown us how he is truly a devout and hardworking servant of God, who places his responsibility to the Lord above everything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember all the things that the Apostles had done, especially St. Peter in all the works he had done. Through him, the Lord had established His Church in this world, built upon the strong foundation of faith which he had, and upon the faith and commitment of the Apostles. But their hard works were not yet complete, and there are still many things that we can do in this world, fulfilling the vocation to which we have been called to.

Each and every one of us as Christians ought to follow the examples of our holy predecessors. And as we are all part of the one Church of God, which is the same Church that He established upon the foundation of His Apostles, especially St. Peter the Apostle, let us all do our respective parts, in order to work together as one Church, under the authority of the successors of the Apostles, the bishops, who themselves are united to the successor of St. Peter, our Pope, the leader of the Universal Church.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless the Church He has built, so that we may always stay together and remain strong in our faith and in our dedication to serve the Lord, and preach more and more of the Good News to the people who have not yet heard of it. Let us all deepen our faith and commit ourselves more wholeheartedly to fulfil the mission which the Lord had entrusted to His Church. May the Lord bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 22 February 2018 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 16 : 13-19

At that time, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them You are John the Baptist, for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Bar-Jona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.”

“And now I say to you : You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Thursday, 22 February 2018 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.