Chair of Saint Peter
This feast commemorates Christ's choosing Peter to sit in his place as the
servant-authority of the whole Church (see June 29).
After the "lost weekend" of pain, doubt
and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, The Lord has
risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter. John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the
younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the
headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: ...[T]hey
did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead (John 20:9). They went home.
There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited
fearfully behind locked doors. Peace be with you,he said (John 20:21b), and they
The Pentecost event completed Peter's experience of the risen Christ. ...[T]hey were all
filled with the holy Spirit (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make
bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.
Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: ... [O]nce you have
turned back, you must strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for
the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to
quash their preaching, before the council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias
and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in
him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People
carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on
Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with
Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says,
...I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.... [T]hey were not on the right road in
line with the truth of the gospel...:(Galatians 2:11b, 14a).
At the end of John's Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, "Amen,
amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but
when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you
where you do not want to go" (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which
Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his
Lord with a martyr's death, probably in the company of many Christians.
built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a
basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.
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