Peter, First Shepherd Of The Church
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Scriptural Readings: 1 Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6; Matthew 16:13-19
My dear encountered couples:
On this feast of the Chair of Peter we honor St. Peter as the first chief shepherd of the Church. Jesus made Peter first among the other apostles and disciples; Jesus made Peter the one we refer to as the Pope. Peter and his successors represent for us Jesus, the Lord, who is our shepherd. What do shepherds do? They lead their sheep to green pastures. They lead their sheep through valleys, dark and narrow valleys on their way up to the cool heights of mountains where green, summer grazing lands await them.
When travelling, whether by car or foot, to reach the top of the highest mountain we first must go up a lower mountain, descend the other side, and travel through a valley to the next mountain. Up that next mountain we go, down the other side and through another valley. Though we are repeatedly going up and down, we are actually gaining altitude without realizing it;
we are getting higher. Finally, we reach the base of the highest mountain and climb to the top. That is where Jesus is leading us - up and down hills and mountains, through valleys, to the heights of the highest mountain with the greenest of pastures - to HEAVEN!
Our ascent to heaven is never a straight climb. Like sheep and travelers, we must go up and down many hills and mountains, through many valleys, dark and narrow valleys, before reaching our destination. Jesus leads us and protects us all the way - through our valleys of disappointments, frustrations, confusing times, or through our many dark and difficult days. And at last through our final valley, our valley of death.
“The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want. In green pastures, he gives me repose … Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff to give me courage …I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” Like forever - in the heights of heaven.