Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. No, we are not celebrating furniture so much as honoring Peter’s declaration before the other apostles that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:3-20)
Many ideas come to my mind when I think of chairs. I think of Goldilock’s and her three chairs – one too hard, one too soft and one – not even really hers – that was ‘just right’.
I think of Mary Englebreit, one of my all-time favorite illustrators, who turns the phrase, “Life is just a bowl of cherries” into a delightful Life is just a chair of bowlies…
On a retreat once I was reminded that the Lord told us to ‘pick up our cross and follow Him’; not ‘pick up your beach chair’!
All very good, but today we honor Peter’s elevation above all the other apostles as the rock on which Christ would build His Church. Peter became the first pope and all the men who followed him sit in authority on “The Chair of St. Peter”, an image of the teaching authority of the Church. We can trust God and His Church not to lead us astray.
But, some days that isn’t so easy to believe. While we may not doubt the great big universal Church per se, we may doubt the rock of our small personal church.
This is the church that exists around the dinner table, and in bedrooms. Our church doesn’t meet polite, gift-bearing dignitaries or give interviews on airplanes but has to endure tough telephone calls in the middle of the night, rude neighbors and the mean friends of our children.
Days of struggle can shake our belief in the strength of our rock and the stability of our chair. We can wonder about God, Himself. How much does He expect us to endure?
When we have one, or two, or more of those days we can draw strength from the promise Jesus gave Simon when he became Peter: and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
Does this mean we won’t have struggles? Does this promise mean we won’t face real temptations and problems. Of course, not! But, we know we will be given the strength to handle them – not perfectly, maybe not even easily – but we will endure.
Those are the days when we can take a moment to imagine just what our Chair of St. Peter might look like and then put God the Father in it. Picture Him there on the seat, ready to take us on His lap and assure us of His deep, abiding and protective love. Hear Him whisper in our ear, “I know what I am about.”