“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.” *(Matthew 16:17-18)
The saying remains forever true that: “Leaders are Readers.” To be a leader at all, one must have some amount of knowledge but to be a good leader, one must have the right kind of knowledge. Furthermore, to be a spiritual leader, one must know God; that is, one must have the capacity of hearing from the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus asked his disciples about his identity in Matthew 16, Jesus was basically testing the disciples. He wanted to know which of them the Holy Spirit would minister to. Up till that moment, Jesus was just a mystery to his disciples; a puzzle they couldn’t crack.
In Mathew 8:27, we see how the disciples in their confusion and utter amazement wondered aloud: “What sort of man is this, that even winds and the sea obey him?” For Peter to have given the right answer, Jesus knew it wasn’t just Peter speaking, it was the Holy Spirit. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
By displaying his ability to hear from God the Father, Jesus immediately made Peter the visible head of the church. Jesus was confident that the same Holy Spirit that spoke to Peter that day at Caesarea Philippi would continue to speak to him to make the right decisions, to say the right words and carry out the right actions to move the church forward.
As a man, Peter was weak, often frightened, erratic, quarrelsome and faithless; he tried to dissuade Jesus from the way of the cross, he cut off someone’s ear, he denied Christ three times after boasting, he went back to fishing even after the resurrection of Christ. But as a Pope, God used him perfectly to set the standards of church leadership.
Like Peter, we priests and religious are not free from weaknesses and often embarrassing shortcomings. In his first letter (which we read in today’s first reading), Peter himself pointed out some of these weaknesses while admonishing the elders (presbyters) of the early church.
These weaknesses include an unwillingness to tend the flock from one’s heart, serving for the sake of personal gain, having a domineering attitude rather than serving the people of God, and not showing good examples to the flock. (Cf. 1st Peter 5). As we honour the Chair of St. Peter today, we pray for the Peter of today’s world, Pope Francis – that God would continue to lead the Church through him.
Dear friends, in whatever position of leadership you find yourself, one question you must not fail to always ask is: Do I have the right kind of knowledge required for this job? In other words, “Am I in tune with the Holy Spirit as Peter was?” Am I leading for the sake of personal gain? And above all, “Do I even know Jesus?”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, bless our dear Pope Francis and all the leaders of the church, despite their shortcomings, use them daily to uplift humanity integrally. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Bible Study: 1st Peter 5:1-4, Psalm 23 and Matthew 16:13-19).