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Yes, Lord, I Believe
Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle
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.”
Opening Prayer: As we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, I thank you, Lord, for the gift of the papacy, which unites your holy Church. I thank you that through the Holy Father in union with the bishops and led by the Holy Spirit you continue to teach, addressing the challenges of today’s world. In today’s Gospel, Peter makes a personal profession of faith. In it, I see what it is you desire from me: my personal adherence to you and all you have revealed through your body on earth, the Church. Open my mind and heart to embrace all that you teach in and through your Church with love and humility.
- Who Do You Say That I Am: Jesus asked the disciples for a quick summary of public opinion before he asked them who they believed he was. They had been with him in many different circumstances and had heard his teaching. They had seen him work miracles, doing things only God can do, from calming storms to multiplying food, from all kinds of healings to raising the dead. And as they accompanied him, there were spontaneous exclamations of recognition, for example, “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). Yet in this moment of direct questioning, only Simon Peter publicly affirmed Christ’s identity: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asks each of us the same question. Take a minute, say your name aloud, and read, “Who do you say that I am?” knowing that it is Jesus asking the question. Spend some time reflecting on your personal response. We answer this question each Sunday when, at Mass when we pray, “I believe…” While we pray the Creed as a body of believers, we are each professing our personal faith in the central truths of our Catholic faith. As the Catechism states, “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (CCC 150).
- Flesh and Blood Has Not Revealed This: Jesus celebrated Simon’s God-given knowledge. It wasn’t human reasoning or wisdom, but the inspiration of God the Father that brought about Simon’s exclamation. We are each called to experience this same inspiration. God desires that we allow him to reveal Christ to each of us personally: “Faith is a personal act—the free response of the human person to the initiative of God” (CCC 166). When we speak about faith this way, we are speaking about not only knowing the teachings of the Church and knowing about Jesus, we are talking about being “called to a personal relationship with God” (CCC 298). This experiential knowledge is what prepares us to say to someone who doesn’t know Jesus, “Let me introduce you to my friend” or “Let me tell you about what Jesus has done in my life.”
- The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: Affirming Simon’s profession of faith, Jesus changed his name to Peter, declaring him to be the foundation of the Church and giving him a unique role among the Apostles: “He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him as the shepherd of the whole flock” (CCC 881). Each pope, as successor of Peter, bears these responsibilities in unifying the Church throughout the world. Through their ministry, we can be assured that not only will the Church not be overrun by the power of Hell, but that Hell itself cannot stand against the Church and her teachings—against Jesus himself. Despite the challenges we face in today’s world, we know that ultimately Jesus and his Church prevail. As members of the Church, we have a responsibility to support the Holy Father through our prayers and sacrifices. We also have a responsibility to build up the Church by forming our consciences according to the official teachings of the Church and by the testimony of our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I hear you ask, “Who do you say that I am?” You are the way, the truth, and the life. You are my Lord, my Savior, my friend, my God. Help me to unite myself to you more deeply through a personal love for you. Thank you for the gift of the Church, which guides and teaches me, and which heals and nourishes me. Help me form my conscience according to all that the Church teaches and grant me the grace to live my Catholic faith with fidelity in every aspect of my life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray an Our Father, three Hail Marys, and a Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father and for all his personal needs.
For Further Reflection: Catholic Answers on Papal Infallibility.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.