Gospel: Mt 16:13-19
After that, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?“ They said, “For some of them, you are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.“
Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?“ Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.“ Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
“And now I say to you: You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.“
Today we celebrate a unique Feast, namely, “The Chair of Peter!“ It is not Peter as a Saint that we celebrate but it is his “Chair“ that gets the honor! Why a feast day for a “Chair?“
Today’s feast honors the authority given to Peter. The “Chair“ symbolizes the authority of Peter. When we have a committee we often have a “chairman“ who heads it. For the Church as an institution it is Peter, and his successors the Popes, who occupy that post or office. Peter, as it were, is the “chairman“ of the Church founded by Christ.
From that “Chair“ Peter, and all who succeed Peter, exercise the teaching authority. From that “Chair“ or more technically “ex Cathedra,“ the Pope makes official pronouncements on Faith and Morals. It is an authority the Pope exercises on the basis of Christ’s own words in todays’ Gospel. When, therefore, the Pope teaches on questions of Faith and Morals, he speaks in the name of Jesus. How awesome is the trust of Christ on whoever seats on the “Chair!“ Christ delegates to Peter, and his successors, full powers! Christ gives to Peter the “Keys of Heaven!“ If Christ Jesus himself put his full trust and confidence in Peter, who am I to question and distrust the one seated on the “Chair of Peter?“