Thursday, 9 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 16 : 13-23

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 Barjona, 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.”

Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. From that day, Jesus began to make it clear to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem; that He would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law; and that He would be killed and be raised on the third day.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to reproach Him, “Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle in My path. You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2016 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles, Great Feast of the Church of Rome and the Universal Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 16 : 13-19

At that time, after Jesus spoke to His disciples about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, He 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, 7 August 2014 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Xystus II/Pope St. Sixtus II, Pope and Companions, Martyrs and St. Cajetan, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Matthew 16 : 13-23

After that, 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.”

Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. From that day Jesus began to make it clear to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem; that He would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law; and that He would be killed and be raised on the third day.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to reproach Him, “Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to You!” But Jesus turned to him and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle in My path. You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Sunday, 29 June 2014 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles and Feast Day of the Church of Rome (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 16 : 13-19

After that, 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.”

Official coat-of-arms of Pope Francis, the 266th Pope, Leader of the Universal Church

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The official coat-of-arms of Pope Francis, which followed closely the model established by Pope Benedict XVI, in placing the ‘three-tiered’ ‘papal mitre’ instead of the papal tiara, and following the same shield model as that of his Cardinalate and episcopal coat-of-arms, but with altered colours for the star and the grapes, from silver to gold.

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Pope Francis used his episcopal motto “Miserando atque Eligendo” which means “Lowly but chosen” in English, in line with his views and outlook on humility.

The Cardinal’s fifteen red tassels and the galero on top of it, is replaced by the papal arms standard including the three-tiered papal mitre and the crossed keys of the kingdom of heaven (silver and gold).

The symbols that appeared on the shield are first, the IHS symbol surrounded with a sun-like ray is the symbol of the Jesuit order (S.J.) of which Pope Francis is a member of, and the star on the bottom-left, in conjunction with the blue colouration of the shield represents the Virgin Mary, and the grape on the bottom right represents Jesus Christ, as the grower of the vineyard of the Lord.

The Church, the Year of Faith, and Christian Unity : Ut Omnes Unum Sint (That they all may be One)

The Lord never said : “You are Peter, and I will make you the leader amongst thousands of churches and other leaders, and they can have their own customs and choose what they believe in, and we can also do what we like, and what we want.”

He did not say : “Peter, you will be one of the many, in a board of management of My ‘churches’, and that these churches were born from Me.”

No, what He truly said was :

“You are Peter, and on this Rock, I will build My Church (singular), 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.”

For our Church is One, and all are united with the successor of St. Peter the Apostle, to whom God has entrusted to feed all of His sheep, and to whom He has entrusted the authority over all of the earth and mankind, the beloved people of God (‘whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven’), and that there is only One Body of Christ, all believing in Christ, and obeying the elders God has appointed over them, of which Peter and his successors are the chief shepherds, the chief elders, who then report to the very Chief Shepherd who will come again at the end of time.

For our faith in Christ is communal as it is personal. This is why we have our bishops, and our beloved Pope, Peter’s successor. For if not so, then all of us can just be our own priests, and just by thinking that we are saved by simply say, “Lord, Lord, I believe in you.”, and shutting ourselves from everyone else, caring only about our salvation.

No, not only will we not be saved by that way, we will be condemned by God, who will judge our ignorance and failure to live our faith by helping others around us, who are less fortunate, and need our help.

When a house is divided against itself, how can it stand and survive? When Satan is divided against himself, he will perish and not stand, just as what Christ said to the Pharisees when they accused Him of using the power of Beelzebub, Satan’s liutenant in casting out demons.

So, therefore, how can God’s Church stand if we are divided against ourselves? In order for us to stand the persecution of Satan in this world, we must first unite and gather our strength, that when Satan and his angels come to scourge God’s beloved people, we will be united as one against him, and as one Church, God will make us all righteous when He comes again in glory.

Let us pray therefore, that in this Year of Faith, our faith in God will ever be strengthened, and will never falter, and that most importantly we can live this faith and put in into action that will be pleasing to the Lord, by serving our fellow men, and thus spreading His Gospel, not just by our words, but by our own actions.

Let us also pray that Ut Omnes Unum Sint, God’s great wish, that all of His faithful may be One, will be accomplished, that every Christian, and everyone who believes in Christ, will all return to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that is built by God, Christ Himself, on the rock of faith that is Peter. Amen!

 

+Ut Omnes Unum Sint, ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam+
(That they all may be One, for the greater glory of God)

Friday, 22 February 2013 : Feast of Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Today, one might ask, why do we celebrate the feast of a chair? Why the chair of St. Peter? As we all should know, that all dioceses in the world has Cathedrals, one in each diocese, and in the Cathedral, there is a special ‘chair’ that only the ordinary or the bishop of the diocese can sit on. This is because that chair is the Cathedra, the bishop’s throne or seat, which represents his authority, which is given from the Lord Himself.

Where does this authority come from? Right, you all should know indeed, that it came eventually, down the centuries and millenia from the early leaders of the Church, who themselves receievd that power and authority from the Apostles, whose leader is Peter, who was then known as Simon, son of Jonah, or Simon Bar-Jona, the fisherman.

Simon answered out of great courage and speak out the truth sincerely about Christ, who is indeed the Messiah and the Son of the living God, who has come to save the world, although maybe none at that time has yet to understand that He has to do this through His suffering and ultimately death on the cross. But indeed, for the great act of faith that Simon showed, Christ entrusted him with His authority and power, as His vicar on earth, simply through the words that He mentioned, that He will give Simon the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and He will build His Church, that is all the faithful in Him, united as one Body, on him as the foundation.

Hence, that is why Christ renamed Simon as Peter, whose Aramaic (the language spoken at the time of Jesus) origin was Kephas/Kepha, which means rock, that was then translated to Greek as Petros, and then to Latin as Petrus, which all means rock. The Gospel indeed has some pun to the word as Christ did say, “You are Peter and on this Rock…”, which one may interpret as the play on the word Petros/Petrus/Kepha, and there are those, who said that the rock does not refer to Peter at all.

No, this cannot be, since that Rock does refer to Peter, and why? It is because of his great faith in Christ, that is like a great rock, will become the most suitable foundation of His Church on this world, for Peter himself later on, as the leader of the Church, rooted himself firmly in Christ, even to his death in Rome.

It does not mean that Peter did not falter in his faith and dedication to the Lord. As everyone should know, that Peter was well-known for his betrayal of the Lord, even after he said during the Last Supper that he would never leave or abandon the Lord, but when Jesus was tried and mocked, and someone suspected Peter of being Christ’s accomplice, he denied Christ three times, out of fear and uncertainty, seeing that the Lord he has always believed in, has now been judged and soon to be sentenced to death.

Nevertheless, it is not Peter’s failures that we should focus on, but rather, what happens after, as he should indeed be a role model to all of us, that after whenever we fall, we must rise up again and rise up ever stronger than before, even stronger than before we fall. It was Peter who led the Apostles in the days after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ, and it was to him that Christ asked, “Peter, do you love Me.”, also three times.

Just as we often heard indeed in the Bible that God is merciful and willing to forgive all who had erred but yet willing to fully turn themselves back towards Him again, the same thing was what Christ did to Peter. Peter knew that he had been forgiven, and he gave Christ the promise of undying and eternal love, and that he will never fail Him again as before. Christ then entrusted the care of all His sheep in this world, all those who believe in Him, in Peter, whom He then affirm as the leader of all the faithful, and His representative in this world.

It is at that point that Christ entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and built His Church, which began on Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. It was Peter who defended Christ and gave a fiery speech, asking the people to believe in Christ, and caused many to convert to the cause of God, and therefore, marked the very beginning of the Church.

Through Peter, we have many of his successors, who are the Bishops of Rome. Why the Bishop of Rome? This is because, in the established tradition and the letters following the events of the New Testament, Peter would travel to Rome eventually and settled there, before being martyred by the Emperor Nero of the Roman Empire sometime in 67 AD, not long after the other great Apostle Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, who is also associated together with the Bishop of Rome.

St. Peter in his great humility, when he was about to be crucified, through which he will face his martyrdom, refused to be crucified in the same way as the Lord did, and thus chose to be crucified upside down. This is what we know now as the ‘upside-down’ cross, or the cross of St. Peter.

Many had misunderstood this ‘upside-down’ as the symbol of the Antichrist, when the Pope, for example Blessed Pope John Paul II utilised it on his chair during his visit to the Holy Land, which in fact is the symbol of his own authority as the successor of St. Peter, and the symbol of Peter’s humility in being crucified upside-down that he would not die the same way as Christ, as he felt unworthy to do so. Now that all of you know about this, tell those who has yet to know about this, that they too may know and not linger in falsehood, but remain in the truth.

The chair of St. Peter can be seen at the back of the High Altar below the famous Holy Spirit stained glass on the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which was built on the spot where St. Peter was buried after his martyrdom. This chair, which is armless, and made of wood and inlaid with precious metals, contains the materials from the original chair that was known to have been used by St. Peter himself when he was in Rome. In a sense, this was St. Peter’s cathedra, and thus, the very first seat of authority that was present in this world.

Many of the Bishops of Rome who succeeded Peter had been great Popes, and many too had been saints and great saints, contributing greatly to the growth of the Church of Christ to whom they are entrusted to, through Peter. Of course there are also some Popes who had been bad Popes, and were great sinners. We condemn what they did, which in one way or another have done bad to the Church of Christ and to the faithful, due to their failure to faithfully carry out the mission that has been entrusted by Christ to them through Peter.

The Popes, who are the Bishops of Rome, are human too, as St. Peter was, and therefore was also prone to sins and errors as other mankind are, but we had indeed gone a long way since St. Peter was entrusted with the keys of kingdom of heaven. After the Council of Trent, and the succeeding councils, the Church has rediscovered itself, and led by the Pope, who is the leader of all the faithful in Christ, we continue in our mission that Christ had given us, that is to spread the Gospel, the Good News to all, and to baptise everyone in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray for our Pope, the successor of St. Peter the Apostle, that he will continue to carry out his mission entrusted to Him by Christ, and use the authority he was given to unite all the faithful in Christ. Now that our Pope, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step down due to ill health, we pray for him that God will continue to watch over him in his retirement, and we pray for whoever his successor as the Bishop of Rome, St. Peter’s successor, will be. It is out  of the same humility that our Pope has decided to step aside, because he felt that someone else can better fulfill the roles and mission entrusted to the Popes since St. Peter, just like Peter himself humbly asked to be crucified upside-down to not die the way Christ died for the salvation of the world.

St. Peter the Apostle, you to whom Christ entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and upon whom He built His Church, pray for us, pray for our Pope Benedict XVI, your successor, and his successors, and pray for the new Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore, Msgr. William Goh Seng Chye, who will be ordained today, and who will receive the authority given to him through the endless succession that came from you, and from Christ, who gave you the authority over the Church and the world. Pray for us, St. Peter. Amen.