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Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle
1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-3A, 4, 5, 6
Matthew 16:13-19
Today’s readings remind us that every one in the Church –– from the
humblest to the most exalted –– is called to lovingly shepherd God’s Peo-
Of the twelve men listed in the gospels as Jesus’ closest companions, I
have to say that Peter is my favorite. I find him so
. A courageous
coward. A humble blowhard. A container of contradictions . . . just like me.
Peter has enough faith to begin walking on the water toward Jesus, but
not enough faith to continue once the storm challenges him (Mt. 14:22-
33). One minute, Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God
(Mt. 16:13-20) and the next he’s telling Jesus to sidestep God’s
will (Mt. 16:21-23). This apostle who holds the keys to the King-
dom is the one who swears he will die before he denies his Lord
(Mt. 26:35), yet denies him three times before the cock crows (Mt.
27:69-75). Oh yes, I can look in the mirror and see the very incon-
sistent Simon Peter staring back at me.
Here’s what gives me hope: Although Peter denied the Lord three
times, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, allows Peter to reaffirm his faith
in him three times as well. After the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter
if he loves him, not once, not twice, but three times. Each time,
Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-
17) and he is restored to the loving relationship he had with Jesus
previous to the denials. Not only that, but Jesus gives Peter a task,
“Feed my sheep.” In other words, equip the rest of “the flock” to
mend their broken relationships with Jesus and with one another.