In today’s Gospel Jesus affirms Simon Peter’s profession of faith in him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is the fundamental profession of faith of the Church, the community of believers. In turn Jesus gives Simon the name Peter, derived from the word for “rock.” This passage is inscribed around the base of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in six-foot-high letters: TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM ET TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM. Prior to Jesus’ resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, it seems that it took a while for this rock to harden. Soon Jesus would call Peter “Satan” for becoming a stumbling block as he spoke about his coming death. Peter would three times deny knowing Jesus after his arrest. In the Gospel two weeks ago Jesus called Peter “O you of little faith,” as he doubted his ability to walk on the water toward Jesus. Yet Peter’s growth in faith did mature as ours must, too. Isn’t this true for all of us? The Gospel calls us to follow Peter’s lead, to overcome doubt and to be steadfast in faith.
The “keys” entrusted to Peter represent his share in Christ’s headship of the Church, for which Peter would emerge as the visible head of the Church on earth, whom we now call the Vicar of Christ. Peter eventually presided over the Church in Rome, where he was martyred by crucifixion and buried near the Circus of Nero on the Vatican Hill. It is over this site that Saint Peter’s Basilica now stands. Since the earliest centuries the Bishop of Rome has been regarded as the successor of Saint Peter in his unique role as visible head of the Church on earth and Vicar of Christ. The 265th successor of Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ is Pope Francis.
Next weekend we will welcome Father Biju Kunjukutty, MSFS, for this year’s mission coop appeal. You may remember Father Biju as chaplain at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, who is now parochial administrator of St. Joseph Parish, St. Joseph Ridge; and St. Peter Parish, Middle Ridge. There is more information about this appeal elsewhere in the bulletin.
Last Saturday we were blessed with a beautiful day to celebrate more than 150 years of Catholic education at St. Peter School in Tilden. Thanks to the teachers who hosted the open house, alumni who came to visit, all who came to the Mass, all who prepared the food, all who did the setting up and taking down, the committee who did the planning, and all who came and had a good time. Now it’s back to school! St. Peter’s School’s Welcome-Back Picnic is Monday afternoon from 5:00 to 7:00.
Last Sunday’s weather was no less perfect for the annual pilgrimage to the shrine on County Highway B. Thanks to Ron Bennesch for furnishing the Farmall H tractor for me to pull one wagonload of pilgrims. The other wagon was pulled by a green tractor that was only hitting on two cylinders.
Pray the Rosary for all who are preparing to return to school, whether students or teachers. Pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his ministry to the Universal Church. Pray for the development of a covid-19 vaccine and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.