Today’s feast could seem strange to people who are literalists. Why, when religious feasts are commonly associated with saints, would there be one (today – February 22nd), celebrating a piece of furniture: the “chair of Peter?” It really isn’t a difficult puzzle to solve but it does have an interesting story (too long for this post) that is an example of a “synecdoche (sin-NEK-da-kee), a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something or vice versa,”—e.g. the chair of Peter for the role of Peter in Christianity. (Language teachers love that one…)
I thought of that not only because St. Peter was so central to the growth of the Church. I was also aware of Peter’s relationship with Jesus. He certainly wasn’t perfect; the gospels are full of his missteps but that is another gift to the Church, I think. Jesus needed someone to lean on occasionally—or maybe more often…He needed a friend, someone to go with him up into the hills to pray with him when things got too much to handle…when people turned against Jesus or when they didn’t understand him. He needed support when people were wondering who he was and Peter was the only one who recognized the mission of Jesus early on.
Peter’s mission was that of companion to Jesus as well as representative of the “beloved community” that was building because of the presence of Christ in the world. We all need that. I think today that I will spend time reflecting on those generous people who have offered me friendship during my life and giving thanks to God for the gifts that I have received because of them. Won’t you join me in that endeavor?