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Lead With Love

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

First Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-3A, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

NAB

feb 22

Today we celebrate the feast of the Chair of Peter. We remember the lineage from which our Church is descended, the great faith of Peter which cries out “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.” What we celebrate is not a position of power, but a grace-filled reality ordained by Christ himself.

When Jesus knew that the time was drawing near for Him to leave and ascend to the throne of Heaven, He looked mercifully on those of us who were to come behind and follow Him, and refused to leave as “sheep without a shepherd.” In His fraternal care for us, He ensured that we could always look to someone, who while strapped with the same human burdens as us, would stand at the head of this motley flock and continue to point us to Christ.

In my lifetime, I have had the privilege of watching three popes lead the church. They have each had their own style of leadership, but each has been a rock in my life as I strive to grow in my faith and embrace the life God has called me to lead.

As they tend to me, a little lamb in their flock, with sound teaching and instruction, I am empowered to go out to my little flock of five boys and the community I serve as a missionary and tend to them well. It is no easy task to lead a flock to Christ, whether it is the large flock of the universal church or the little flock right under our roof.

But we can walk in humility, knowing that to lead is really to serve, and to serve is really to love. We bring people to Jesus by being Jesus present to them. This is the beauty of the Church in our lives and it is our calling as the leaders of our own little flocks.

To lead with oversight but not constraint, eagerly and not for own profit, with example rather than the iron fist—this is the way that Jesus led, this is the blue print He left for the Church, and it is the plan for us as well.

Let us look to the Church to lead us and guide us on the path to Heaven, and let us in turn lead well, with hearts full of love and humility. So that, together, we can celebrate the eternal victory.

How can you lead the flock you are asked to tend with love today? As you strive to do so, remember to offer a prayer for Pope Francis as he strives to the same for his flock, the Church.

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.

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