For over 1500 years the Church has celebrated St. Peter’s Chair on this day. When I first became Catholic I thought this was the weirdest thing I had ever heard of. This has slowly made sense to me as I have been asked to chair one thing or another. When I chair a committee or a board, I take on the role mission that has been entrusted to that chair. It might be to fundraise, it might be to develop a long-term strategy, it might be to manage an operation. Sometimes I have appointed a subcommittee with their own chair to take on a specialized part of our business. I trust they will take that chair on as a part of the same mission I am part of but within the sphere of their special assignment.
Jesus made Peter the Chairman of his own corporate body, the Church, and assigned him the impossible task of preaching to the ends of the earth until the end of the world (Matthew 24:14). Peter couldn’t do it alone. He sent out apostolic emissaries, each empowered by the same Holy Spirit that Christ had breathed on him. These emissaries formed their own sub-committees and sub-committee chairs.The chain of spirit-led chairmen spread and continued. Today there is a chair in Lansing where my bishop sits. He has been given that same Holy Spirit to accomplish the same impossible mission given to Peter of preaching to the ends of the earth until the end of the world (Matthew 24:14). He too continues to assign sub-committees. I am a part of one such group, my parish, which is chaired by my Priest who encourages and strengthens me as a member of a special task force called to lead my family to participate in the impossible mission with the holy spirit, in the lives of my children, co-workers, neighbors, and community. When I honor the chair of saint peter, I am reminded that I am a part of a story much bigger than my own. I am reminded that every chair I sit down on is one in which I can join in the mission given to St. Peter long ago. I am a chairman too, with that same Holy Spirit, given the grace to do the impossible today.