See of the Apostle Peter

See of the Apostle Peter

See of the Apostle Peter, 22nd February 2022

We’ve had a mixed bag of Popes over the years, parishes have had a mixed bag of priests and bishops over the years and monastic communities can say the same of their superiors, too –  it’s the way of human nature. But today’s feast isn’t primarily about the personality of the Pope but the Pope’s function. Someone is needed, inevitably flawed, to re-present Christ as leader and, in this sense, the Church is inevitably hierarchical. But that doesn’t mean the flaws of human nature shouldn’t be countered, admonished, turned to good. So Peter’s role of binding and loosing applies as much to himself as anyone – the power, that is, we all have through this hierarchic succession, to either promote or impede this process of making God’s mercy, God’s kingship, available to all. Mercy is for-giving. This calls for great humility, to be able to both give and receive God’s mercy, and the recognition that our own ability to receive and give mercy is inadequate. Hence the hierarchy, or need to be ‘born from above’, or, as we hear in the Rule of St. Benedict:

And so the Abbot ought not to teach or to make laws or to give commands that are outside the commandments of the Lord, but his ordering and his teaching should be sprinkled on the hearts of his disciples like a leaven of divine holiness, while he himself is always conscious that there will be an examination at the dread judgement of God into his own teaching and the obedience of his disciples. 


or, as Peter himself learns to say:

Never be a dictator over any group that is in your charge but be an example that the whole flock can follow. 

(1 Peter 5:4)