Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This morning, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. (I know, I know. DH laughed too). It's a long title for a fairly simple, yet important, feast in the Catholic Church: the institution of the papacy. "On this rock [Peter], I build my Church."

I am a big fan of St. Peter. On so many levels, I get him. He was impulsive and passionate. He spoke without thinking. He was loyal... and fully flawed, giving in to fear when tested. He loved Jesus so deeply, he was unwilling to hear about His impending suffering. He accepted rebuke with consideration.

St. Peter fills me with hope. I see so many of my own flaws and character defects in him. I also see some of my assets in him. I have hope that my faith, though often mottled and weak, can and will continue to deepen, as his did. I hope that, as my relationship with Jesus grows more complete, so will my witness.

I am encouraged because Jesus chose Peter to lead in His immediate absence. Jesus knew Peter inside and out. He knew Peter's flaws. He knew Peter's sins. He knew all the ways Peter had and would continue to disappoint Him. And, still, He chose Peter. Knowing all that He knew, Jesus chose a flawed, passionate man on which to set the foundation for His Church.

And I sit here, thousands of miles away, thousands of years later, flawed and passionate in my own ways. In common, Peter and I have a deep love for Christ and a desire to follow Him. We share impulsive, passionate personalities and the occasional error of speaking before thinking things through.

I am encouraged that Jesus chose Peter. I believe He is choosing me, too. Not in the same way, of course, but choosing me all the same. And you. He is choosing you. Each of us, if we have had the privilege of knowing Him, is chosen to be a witness for Him.

It was hard for Peter to witness for Christ. None of the "powers that be" wanted to hear of Him. The message of Christ was countercultural and frightening to many of the day.

Two thousand years, and it's not all that different. Christ's message is still countercultural. Sometimes, in my lovely little Catholic world here in very-Catholic St. Louis, I forget that. I forget just how countercultural it is to declare "love your enemies" and "forgive others, yes all of them" in our secular-humanist, narcissistic American culture. On Sunday night, I got a reminder.

The challenge I see today, on this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, is to ask myself how I am witnessing to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Am I reflecting Christ to others, by what I do and say, by how I live? I wear a cross around my neck every day, an outward sign of the faith I profess. How well do my actions profess my faith? Would someone know Christ by spending time with me?

As St. Peter proved, Jesus does not require perfection in his followers, even in those chosen to lead. He does, however, ask us to love, to love deeply, fully, and without condition, and to extend that love not just to God and our friends, but to all: the poor, the undesirable, and those whom we find to be filled with evil intention.

On your feast day, and every day, St. Peter, pray for us.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I believe loving others is the most important commandment, as Jesus said. I also want to have God's love poured into my heart for all people.