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Tuesday, February 22, 2000

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Chair of St. Peter

1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23
Matthew 16:13-19

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jesus' gift of the papacy

"I for My part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build My church." —Matthew 16:18

Jesus made Peter the head of the apostles. Did Jesus intend for someone to succeed Peter as the head of the apostles? The early Church believed Jesus wanted Peter to have successors, and they were in a better position to know Jesus' will than we are. Moreover, there is no Biblical data to deny the continuation of Peter's ministry as the head of the apostles.

Why did Jesus tell the Church to choose successors to Peter? Although the Church is founded on the apostles and their successors, the bishops (Eph 2:20; Rv 21:14), the bishops have not always been united in teaching the faith. For example, the majority of the bishops denied the divinity of Jesus during the time of the Arian heresy. During the English "Reformation," every English bishop except John Fisher gave allegiance to the heresy that King Henry VIII was the head of the Church. Without a pope, we don't always know what the Church teaches. Without a pope, the Church sometimes would not be what it is supposed to be, "the pillar and bulwark of truth" (1 Tm 3:15).

How is the Pope called to lead the bishops and the Church? He is to exercise authority, for Jesus has given him the keys of God's kingdom (Mt 16:19). He is to give the Church "a shepherd's care" (1 Pt 5:2), "not lording it over" the Church (1 Pt 5:3).

Love and obey the Pope. Pray for him daily. Thank Jesus for giving him to us.

Prayer:  Jesus, may I love the Church and the Pope as You do.

Promise:  "When the chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading crown of glory." —1 Pt 5:4

Praise:  Praise be to Jesus, Whom St. Peter proclaimed to be "Son of the Living God," Who appointed Peter to be rock of His Church, and Who promised to be with us "always, until the end of the world!" (Mt 28:20)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, July 28, 1999

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 3, 1999