Today’s Mass celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle. Appropriately, the first reading is from a letter of Peter, in this case 1 Peter (5:1-4). Peter directs it to his fellow presbyters (priests).whom he asks to lead their flocks “not by constraint but willingly…not for shameful profit but eagerly” (v. 2) and to not lord their position over those under their care. Ultimately, being faithful to their calling will lead to their receiving an “unfading crown of glory” (v. 4).
Naturally, considering the feast being celebrated, we first think of the pope, the Vicar of Christ, as a special target of this exhortation. Next, we look to the priests explicitly mentioned in the passage. Certainly all ordained bishops and priests have a great responsibility to faithfully lead their flocks into a deeper relationship with Christ. We should help to strengthen them in their vocation and duties through prayer, encouragement, and personal assistance.
Let us not forget, as well, all who tend the flocks over which they have been given charge, especially parents and teachers. Parents provide the domestic church and do much to form their children through religious instruction and example. Teachers should maintain or provide a welcoming and nurturing environment. Children notice our behavior, whether it be right or wrong, and emulate it. Let us not bring to ruin future generations but be Christ to them, and see the young Jesus in them, encouraging them to greater love and fidelity toward God and neighbor!