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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Feast of the Chair of Peter

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 16, 13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of man is?'

And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

'But you,' he said, 'who do you say I am?'

Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'

Jesus replied, 'Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today’s celebration of the Chair of Peter remembers an ancient tradition according to which Peter’s episcopacy in Rome started exactly on February 22. The liturgy of the Church invites us to commemorate and celebrate "Peter’s ministry." Two aspects are underlined: on one hand the apostolic foundation of the Church of Rome and on the other the service of presiding in charity, that is a unique charisma that lives in Peter’s successors. The Gospel we heard, with its three symbols, the rock, the keys and the act of binding and loosening, shows that Peter is called to a ministry for the entire building of God’s elected ones. We are well aware of how vital this ministry of the unity of the bishop of Rome is for the Church. Today it looks even more urgent and precious. In a globalised world, with very strong self-centredness and fragmentation, the pope represents a unique treasure to be kept, protected and shown, not in the powerful ways of this world, but as a service of love for all especially for the weak. The primacy in fact is not born from "flesh" or "blood." It is not a question of personal and human qualities. It is a gift of god’s Spirit to his Church as it is clear in the Gospel passage. Jesus gathers his disciples in a secluded place and there he starts speaking with them. He wants to know what people think of him; it is not just out of curiosity - even a legitimate one. Jesus knew that people were awaiting the Messiah, though he was intended as a military and politically strong man. People knew that he would come to free the people of Israel from the slavery of the Romans. And yet this expectation was foreign to his mission that wanted to free people radically from the slavery of sin and evil. After the first answers, Jesus goes straight to the disciples’ heart: "But who do you say that I am?" He needs his disciples to be united with him, that they have a common feeling. Peter takes the word and, answering on behalf of all Peter, confesses his faith and receives immediately his blessing. Peter, and with him the modest group of disciples, is part of those "infants" to whom the Father reveals the things hidden since the foundation of the world. And Simon, a man like all others, made of "flesh" and "blood," receives a new vocation, a new task and commitment in the encounter with Jesus; he will be rock, that is support, for many others and will have the power to bind new friendships and loosen many bonds of slavery.

Memory of the Apostles