When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Today the Church celebrates the Chair of St. Peter. There is an actual chair in the apse of the Basilica of St. Peter. More importantly the chair represents the spiritual authority given to Peter from Jesus in the Gospel today.
Jesus built the Church upon Peter, the rock. Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom and the power to forgive sins in His name. And throughout the centuries, this authority has been passed down through Peter to his successors to the present day. Each successor of St. Peter is meant to carry on the teachings of Jesus as the shepherd of the universal Church.
Jesus tells us where our authority comes from – it comes from the cross. It comes from laying down our lives for others so that they may have life. Some people like use their authority to “lord it over” others. But Jesus says, “It shall not be that way with you.” (Matthew 20:26) Our power and authority comes from Jesus, who teaches us to serve and love God and neighbor. Jesus laid down His life so that we may have life; we are called to do the same for others.
I know many of you who read this are in positions of authority and leadership, at many different levels and places. Let us take time to think about how we lead. Do I lord my power over others? Or do I lead through service? Do I lay down my life for others so that they may have life?
Leading by service does not mean that we have to be a doormat. Jesus was not a doormat. He always spoke the truth with love. Maybe we combine truth and love in all that we do today. St. Peter, pray for us that we may holy leaders and good shepherds.
Have a great day!