Today we are celebrating more than a piece of furniture; we’re celebrating a special ministry established by Our Lord himself, as recalled in today’s Gospel, a ministry we refer to as the Petrine ministry because it was established by Our Lord in a moment of the apostle Peter expressing his faith that Jesus was the Christ, aided by the Heavenly Father’s grace. Even today this ministry continues through the Pope. When we speak of the Pope’s office, we speak of the Apostolic “See,” which means seat. When we speak of his work and the work of those who help him in the Vatican’s dicasteries, we speak of the Holy “See.” Aided by the Holy Spirit, when the Pope makes a doctrinal declaration regarding faith and morals that all Catholics are to believe in the faith, we say he’s speaking ex Cathedra (from the chair). All these things are represented by the Chair of St. Peter.
Ministry implies an office, a minister, and someone who needs to be ministered to. It is authority, but it is also service that bears with it a great responsibility. Peter showed himself weak and unsure frequently, but Our Lord promised him that he would be the one to strengthen his brethren and that the Church the Lord would build on Peter would withstand the powers of evil and death. Today we commemorate Our Lord handing over the keys to Peter, keys that would be handed over to his successors, the bishops of Rome, whom we call Popes, to ensure that the powers of evil and death would not prevail against the Lord’s Church and to continue the Petrine ministry that watches over the unity of faith and love in the Church.
Let’s pray today for the Holy Father and for everyone who works with him in the Holy See so that the unity of faith and love in the Church continues.
Readings: 1 Peter 5:1–4; Psalm 23:1–3a, 4–6; Matthew 16:13–19. See also Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.