The meaning of the celebration
+ Today’s feast, an ancient celebration of the authority entrusted to Saint Peter and his successors, highlights the reality of Peter’s special role in the life of the Church.
+ The Gospel for this feast recounts the confession of Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (see Matthew 16:13-19). In response to this statement of faith, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, signifying his new mission and identity: Peter becomes the “Rock” on which the Church is built and the powers of evil and death will never be able to conquer it.
For prayer and reflection
“Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them..”—Saint Leo the Great
On February 22, we also remember Blessed Diego Carvalho, a Jesuit missionary to Japan, who was martyred with 60 companions at Sendai, Miyagi, on February 22, 1624. Blessed Diego was beatified with other Japanese martyrs in 1867.
Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.