Sun, 21 February 2021
(1Pt.5:1-4; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.16:13-19)
“On this rock I will build my Church.”
And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests. It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all.
It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself. Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.” It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm. “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock.
How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.” How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed. The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them. It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Christ’s own special children.
To those who still doubt the primacy of Peter and its absolute necessity, I invite you to read again Scripture and notice how often and always Peter speaks for the whole and acts for the whole body as he does today. It is to all the apostles Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” and though all may have faith, only one speaks up and answers in no uncertain terms. As he does at the first council at Jerusalem, as he did in coming to the Lord on the water, Peter speaks and leads in the power of the Spirit. The Church is one in Christ, and it has one rock it is set upon.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, as long as we remain in your House
we shall be secure,
for the faith of Peter will strengthen us.
YHWH, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven you entrust to Peter; he is the Rock upon which your Church is set, the chief Shepherd leading all the rest. Though your Son alone be the cornerstone, the true foundation of this House, it is into the hands of Peter you entrust your flock by his confession of faith.
You are at his side always, ever assisting him in leading the ewes with care. It is by your Spirit he rules this House, generously giving his life in union with Jesus, our Savior. And so, in verdant pastures your sheep make their home. In your presence we are blessed to remain by your grace upon our souls, dearest LORD.
O living God, bless this day all your bishops and priests, and especially the Holy Father. You indeed bless them by revealing yourself to them and strengthening them for the work they must accomplish. With them may we all walk in the footsteps of your Son, laying down our lives for all, that we might come to eternal rest in the glory of your kingdom.