The Chair of St. Peter
We celebrate today the feast of The Chair of St. Peter. Quite strange, isn’t it? Why do we celebrate a piece of furniture? Well, of course, we are not referring to the ‘chair’ as a piece of furniture, but as a symbol of authority. In other words, we are celebrating the authority of the person who sits on the chair.
Webster Dictionary defines authority as being, among other things, a “power to influence thought and opinion… practical personal influence… convincing force.” So the people who exercised their authority in our lives are those who influenced the way we look at ourselves and the world. And in a more profound sense, they are the ones who influenced us to be better persons by making us feel great and by helping us grow. They brought out the best in us.
That is what real authority does. Real authority is growth-giving, affirmative, positive, and helpful. The word itself is an indication of this. Its root is a Latin word augere, meaning “to make grow.” Jesus’ authority achieved something what all authority should achieve: foster growth and empower people.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “Greatness is making others feel great.” This is absolutely true with the greatness of Jesus: He makes others feel great. He uses his power to empower people – especially the least, the lost, and the last.
As Christ’s followers, we must also seek to empower others. Our own ministry – the work we do for Christ, whatever it is – should foster growth and empower people. We are called to help others grow – mentally, morally, and spiritually. We are called to make them realize their potentials, and influence them to be a better person. We have to find ways to empower others, make them feel great. May we empower them and bring out the best in them.
On The Feast of The Chair of St. Peter, I’d like to reflect with you on this question: “What kind of ‘chair’ do I want sit on?”
May it not be the chair of Lazy Boy or high-end sofa – or the chair of comfort and convenience, of entertainment and enjoyment, of leisure and pleasure. Rather, may it be the chair of availability to others, of willingness to go the extra mile, of readiness to give until it hurts.
May it not be the chair made by the likes of Kenneth Cobonpue – or the chair of fame and prestige, of social status and human glory. Rather, may it be the chair made of opportunities to serve – without expecting recognition and promotion, without wanting the esteem and admiration of others.
May it not be the chair of The Game of Thrones – or the chair of striving “to be up there,” of competition and rivalry, of power and domination. May it not be the chair of upward mobility. Rather, may it be the chair of downward mobility – the way towards the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the suffering, the oppressed, the marginalized.
My dear friends, in our craving for upward mobility, Jesus proposes the need for downward mobility: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” The Lord is telling us that greatness is not measured by the power and influence we exercise over people, but by how we serve others. May we follow Jesus’ descending way… of going down and reaching out to the least of our sisters and brothers.