- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 22, 2019

6h Friday of Ordinary Time
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
1 Peter 5: 1-4; Matthew 16: 13-19

In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul wrote: “They drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor.10:4). Jesus Christ is the Rock on which the Church is built; and the source of the living waters that issue therefrom, all believers drink of it and are refreshed. In this context, I would like to repeat a reflection offered by Pope Francis: “It is not the rock that gets its name from Peter, but Peter that gets his name from the Rock, just as the name Christ does not derive from the Christian, but the name Christian derives from Christ”. Today we unite with the successor of Peter in renewing our faith in the rock of our profession, Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and the Lord of life. This profession of faith demands constant, wholehearted dedication. Through our communion with Christ, God’s loving kindness can be extended to the weakest and marginalized members of the human race.

Christ’s heart was moved with pity for the sheep of His flock and it is the desire of His heart that none of these least ones be lost or neglected. If we are communion with Christ, they will find a resting place close to the heart of Christ. Through the sacrament of Baptism we have been made collaborators of God’s saving plans. Having been conformed to the risen and glorified Lord, our lives testify to the strength of the grace that transforms people’s hearts and the power of the Spirit that renews the face of the earth. The proof of our profession of faith is that we act according to the heart of Christ. Holding firm to the anchor of our soul, we will not be shaken. Through our Baptism, we have been commissioned to be witnesses of the saving passion of Christ and partakers of his glory. The cross is Christ’s throne in the world. From it He offered humanity the most important challenge that of loving one another as he has loves us, even to the ultimate gift of his very life. Christ, the Son of the living God, is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are called to be totally conformed to him so as to make his gift of love tangible in our day.

Even though Peter’s faith was weak, wavering, unsteady and shaken at many times, Christ saw in this rough fisherman a heart and soul filled with genuine love and dedication. Granted, he wavered in his faith, and had shaky belief in the Lord, but he did persevere through and did not give up. Christ looked into the depths of his heart and saw goodness there. He forgave him his denials.  Christ then gave him His Holy Spirit, the advocate and guide through whom He transformed this humble, uneducated and seemingly insignificant fisherman, into a steadfast and solid rock of faith.

Following in the footsteps of the apostles, it is Christ’s desire that we work together as a community of faith that pours itself out in selfless love. Knowing ourselves to be forgiven and called, we are to help one another reject the common forms, and even the structures, of enslavement that lure us away from God’s Reign. “When the church is truly herself, she is always on the move; she constantly has to place herself at the service of the mission that she has received from the Lord. And therefore she must always open up afresh to the cares of the world, to which she herself belongs, and give herself over to them, in order to make present and continue the holy exchange that began with the Incarnation” (Benedict XVI).