In his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae this morning, Pope Francis reflected on the love of Christ and the power it has in redeeming one’s sins. Among those attending the Mass were employees of the Vatican Museums.
The Holy Father spoke on the Gospel which relates the encounter Christ had with Peter, asking him three times if Peter loved Him.
“It is a dialogue of love between the Lord and his disciple, one that retraces the whole history of Peter’s meetings with Jesus, from Peter’s first calling and invitation to follow the Lord, to his receiving the name of Cephas the Rock and with the name, his peculiar mission, which was there, even if Peter understood nothing of it [at the time],” Pope Francis said.
Continuing to speak on the various encounters Peter had with Jesus during his ministry, the Holy Father said that Christ was maturing Peter’s heart and soul while “helping Peter to grow in love.”
“So Peter, when he heard Jesus three times ask him, Simon, son of John, do you love me? was ashamed, because he remembered the time when, three times, he said he did not know the Lord,” the Holy Father said.
“Peter was saddened that, for a third time, Jesus asked him, Do you love me? This pain, this shame, great man, this Peter [and] a sinner, a sinner. The Lord makes him feel that he is a sinner makes us all feel that we are sinners. The problem is not that we are sinners: the problem is not repenting of sin, not being ashamed of what we have done. That’s the problem. And Peter has this shame, this humility, no? The sin, the sin of Peter, is a fact that, with a heart as great as the heart Peter had, brings him to a new encounter with Jesus: to the joy of forgiveness.”
The 76 year old Pontiff went on to say that Christ, in asking St. Peter to feed His sheep, kept His promise of establishing Peter as the rock where he built His Church. Despite Peter being a sinner, he was not corrupt.
“I once knew of a priest,” Pope Francis recalled, “a good parish pastor who worked well. He was appointed bishop, and he was ashamed because he did not feel worthy, he had a spiritual torment. And he went to the confessor. The confessor heard him and said, But do not worry. If after the [mess Peter made of things], they made him Pope, then you go ahead! . The point is that this is how the Lord is. Thats the way He is. The Lord makes us mature with many meetings with Him, even with our weaknesses, when we recognize [them], with our sins.”
Pope Francis went on to say that St. Peter, in allowing himself to be shaped by his encounters with Christ, had given a model for all Christians to follow. Peter, the Pope said, “ is great, not because he is good, but because he has a nobility of heart, which brings him to tears, leads him to this pain, this shame – and also to take up his work of shepherding the flock.”
Concluding his homily, the Holy Father invited those present at the Mass to follow the example of St. Peter, who allowed himself to be purified and matured through his encounters with Christ.
“More than this, it is important that we let ourselves encounter the Lord: He always seeks us, He is always near us. Many times, though, we look the other way because we do not want to talk with the Lord or allow ourselves to encounter the Lord. Meeting the Lord [is important], but more importantly, let us be met by the Lord: this is a grace. This is the grace that Peter teaches us,” the Pope said.