Saturday, February 22, 2014

Peter, The Rock - On the Feast of the Cathedra of Peter

The feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter has this year a very unique flavor with two living Popes gathering at the same solemn event in St. Peter Basilica.

Two living Popes, yes, but ther is no doubt whatsoever as to who the Vicar of Christ is currently.

The embrace of Francis and Benedict is an eloquent testimony. Pope Emeritus continues to teach us even without words.

Another Pope of ancient times teaches us today also, in the Second Reading of the Divine Office, what do we believe of Francis, our Pope:

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope

The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter’s faith

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues:
 And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

 upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told:
 To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But
 it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.

Pope Francis has a unique style that reminds us more of Jesus Himself than of any of his predecessors in the Chair of Peter. His freedom to love has been a cause of concern for some who are not used to the workings and the Power of the Spirit in their own lives. People who know the Faith only through what is written in books are going to stumble with Pope Francis because we are living extraordinary times and the Spirit is moving in extraordinary ways.

But our Faith, and the Chruch of Jesus Christ is based on the Rock. Not because Pope Francis has it all together but because Jesus gave His divine Word that He wants it so, and He is the foundation supporting the Rock.

Once again it is the Humility of God that is the stumbling block for our lack of humility, especially in our times when we have come to be certain that we see things more clearly, and know better what the Church and the world needs, than the Pope -and than God Hiimself.

May God bless and keep Pope Francis, and continue to guide him as he leads us forward in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

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