Chair of St. Peter, Apostle
Today we honor St. Peter who was chosen by Jesus to be the head of the apostles because he was the first to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Our Catholic tradition teaches us that in this moment he also became the first "Pope", the leader of the Church on earth. Since then we have had about 259 popes. The current pope is Pope Francis.
The beautiful thing about being a pope is not the power he has but the ministry he is entrusted with. A beautiful image symbolizing that ministry is one of the titles of the pope: Pontiff. "Pontiff" comes from the Latin word "pont" which means "bridgebuilder". So, the pope, or the pontiff, is to be a bridgebuilder. His ministry of preaching, teaching the example of his life would build bridges for all of us to encounter Jesus who really is the head of the church.
Another beautiful image symbolizing the ministry of the pope are the keys that Jesus gives Peter when he bestows the honor of being the first of the apostles and the first pope (Matthew 16:13-19). As the keeper of the keys the pope looks after and protects the church. The church is made up of people. In essence, then we are the keys and the pope needs us to assist him and leading others to Christ. He needs us to assist him in unlocking doors for others to pass through and to build bridges for others to encounter God.
As we honor St. Peter and his ministry has the first of the apostles and the first Pope let us pray for our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he continues to protect and the the Church (you and me) to Jesus. Let us also pray that we will assist him by unlocking doors and building bridges for others to meet Jesus!