Friday, 22 February 2008
Tu Es Petrus
22nd February - Chair of St. Peter
Since early times, the Roman Church has had a special commemoration of the
primatial authority of St. Peter. As witness one of the most renowned of the
Apostolic Fathers, the Roman See has always held a peculiar place in the
affection and obedience of orthodox believers because of its "presiding in
love" and service over all the Churches of God.
"We shall find in the Gospel that Jesus Christ, willing to begin the mystery
of unity in His Church, among all His disciples chose twelve; but that,
willing to consummate the mystery of unity in the same Church, among the
twelve He chose one. He called His disciples, said the Gospel; here are all;
and among them He chose twelve.
Here is the first separation, and the Apostles chosen.
And these are the names of the twelve Apostles: the first,
Simon, who is called Peter. [Mt. 10, 1-2] Here, in a second separation, St.
Peter is set at the head, and called for that reason by the name of Peter,
"which Jesus Christ," says St. Mark, "had given him," in order to prepare,
as you will see, the work which He was proposing to raise all His building
on that stone.
"All this is yet but a beginning of the mystery of unity. Jesus Christ, in
beginning it, still spoke to many: Go, preach; I send you [see Mt. 28, 19].
Now, when He would put the last hand to the mystery of unity, He speaks no
longer to many: He marks out Peter personally, and by the new name which He
has given him. It is One who speaks to one: Jesus Christ the Son of God to
Simon son of Jonas; Jesus Christ, who is the true Stone, strong of Himself,
to Simon, who is only the stone by the strength which Jesus Christ imparts
to him. It is to him that Christ speaks, and in speaking acts on him, and
stamps upon him His own immovableness. And I, He says, say to you, you are
Peter; and, He adds, upon this rock I will build my Church, and, He
concludes, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [Mt. 16, 18] To
prepare him for that honor Jesus Christ, who knows that faith in Himself is
the foundation of His Church, inspires Peter with a faith worthy to be the
foundation of that admirable building. You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God. [Mt. 16, 16] By that bold preaching of the faith he draws to
himself the inviolable promise which makes him the foundation of the Church.
"It was, then, clearly the design of Jesus Christ to put first in one alone,
what afterwards He meant to put in several; but the sequence does not
reverse the beginning, nor the first lose his place. That first word,
Whatsoever you shall bind, said to one alone, has already ranged under his
power each one of those to whom shall be said, Whatsoever you shall remit;
for the promises of Jesus Christ, as well as His gift, are without
repentance; and what is once given indefinitely and universally is
irrevocable. Besides, that power given to several carries its restriction in
its division, while power given to one alone, and over all, and without
exception, carries with it plenitude, and, not having to be divided with any
other, it has no bounds save those which its terms convey."