Cleveland Prayer Group Website

Patriarchal Day Thoughts

by Dr .D. Babu Paul

February 22 is remembered by the church as the day of Peter establishing his throne in Antioch. The Roman Catholic Church also observes this day, of course without mentioning Antioch or Rome, as Cathedra Petri.

That Peter had a special place among disciples is beyond doubt. That it was he who confessed the faith is also undisputed. That he did that without realizing the cost involved is also clear; that is why in the very breath after calling him Peter our Lord had to admonish him. That he disowned his Guru is accepted, but often we do not recall that it happened because he did not run away like the rest except, of course, John; his offence was one which could have been committed only by a disciple who was loyal and "foolhardy" if not brave.

There is something of Peter in all of us. The greatest plus point of Peter was his willingness to allow Jesus to restore him to grace. Peter disowned and Judas betrayed, Peter was restored to primacy but Judas had to be replaced; the response to guilt was different and that made the difference. This grace is obvious in the case of Thomas also; how kindly Jesus treats his doubt; He invites Thomas to satisfy himself and that was enough for Thomas to say My Lord and My God, he did not any longer need to feel the wound physically. (Like the number of the Magi we just assume that Thomas satisfied himself by putting his hand in the wound etc. Bible does not say that, just as the Bible does not say that there were THREE wise men).

For Peter, a look was enough. For Thomas, an offer was enough. As the church remembers "Cathedra Petri" let us look into ourselves to identify the Peter in each of us, and ensure that we honor the Call each of us has received. The times when we have jumped into the sea moved by faith and the times when we began to sink for want of adequate faith. The times when we declared faith in the Son of God and the times when we tried to make God conform to our plan for Him ( and consequently for us). The times when we were scared and/or ashamed to confess our linkage with Him and the times when He by a sad look transmitted in silence made us realise our folly thus inviting us to repent and be restored. The times when we in despair thought of returning to fishing for fish and the times when He waited on the shore with breakfast ready to make us fishers of men. Feb 22, as indeed any memory associated with Peter, should prompt us to introspect and depend on God to carry out any correction of the course of our life; Peter's is one of the most reassuring examples for ordinary mortals like us, falling and being helped by Him to rise again.

Secondly this feast should remind us of our faith. Faith of the fathers is three dimensional as explained by Paul to the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20): the relationship with God (20: 21), the realization of my calling (20: 24) and the responsibility for the neighbor (20: 35). Everything else comes in the lower dimensions of faith, be it the canon of the Bible, or the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos, or the one-time baptism. Even lower in significance would fall the traditions of the church, administrative or ritualistic, and the more mundane aspects of church life. When we remember the establishment of the Petrine Throne we should not be carried away to uncharitable positions or untenable premises; on the other hand we should recall the faith of Peter, and Eudius, and Ignatius, and all the saintly souls who left for us their shining commitment to Christ.

Thirdly we should use this as a day to pray for the Patriarch, HH Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas. He is a man of prayer and a good soul. I should know: I have known him closely for almost a quarter century now, and HH has taken me in such confidence that I know more about his strengths AND weaknesses than any other Indian (!), it is not as if he is all virtue, he is a human being too, but a far better human being than most I have seen in 68+ years. Let us pray that HH be strengthened in his strong points, and supported in his weaknesses by the Holy Spirit. Every time I speak to Moran he, the head of my church and successor to St. Peter, asks me to pray for him; that is humility. We, his followers, should ensure that by our words and conduct we do not give the impression that our Patriarch is a self seeking power-hungry ordinary man perched on an undeserving throne: we owe it to him, if we genuinely respect him. I do not know how many of us pray for him everyday. I do, and I hope that at least a few of those who read this would start the practice from this day on.

Let us pray for reinforcement of our faith, for resetting of priorities as Holy Spirit guides us, and for long life and happy times for our Patriarch.

[Article Archives Home] [Cleveland Prayer Group Home]

Website Developed and Hosted By: International Cyber Business Services Inc.
Copyright 1996-2008 International Cyber Business Services, Inc.