Some 300 participants in the Synod on Youth, made a pilgrimage to St Peter’s Tomb on October 25, 2018: six kilometers of walking in Rome, with moments of prayer, in which the young auditors participated.
The participants arrived by noon at St. Peter’s Basilica, where the Pope joined them to conclude their pilgrimage. With him, they renewed their Creed, then celebrated Mass presided over by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, at the Basilica’s main altar.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting the New Evangelization – the Dicastery organizing the Event – delivered the homily, meditating on the meaning of the Apostle Peter, his life, his vocation: “Peter shows us how to live our Christian existence.”
“When he was young, he went where he wanted, he was autonomous, independent, that’s what we want … but will come the time when another will lead you where you do not want to go,” he said, quoting the Gospel of John (21: 15-19).
To understand these words of Jesus, Archbishop Fisichella explained, we need to return a few years back to the vocation of Peter, who trusts Jesus after his unsuccessful fishing, and goes back to throw his nets: “I trust you.” We see the confidence that Peter puts in Jesus, even if he did not know Him.”
With this episode, Peter “begins to receive a first teaching: without me, you cannot do anything; he who abides in me will bear much fruit. Peter understands slowly that he must trust, that he needs the grace of God; without Him, we can do nothing. Peter feels unworthy, but Jesus “has another plan,” Archbishop Fisichella continued: “Do not be afraid … continue to trust me, continue to be near me.”
The president of the dicastery emphasized the “generous character” of Peter “as typical of our youth, generosity, solidarity … who go where needed”. However, “Peter, step by step, must understand that it is Jesus, it is God who saves him.”
After the Resurrection of Jesus, in the Gospel passage of John, observed Archbishop Fisichella, Jesus does not say to Peter: “Why did you betray me?” The Archbishop admitted that he would have asked.
The prelate continued: “Jesus teaches us that when you are in Him, you think differently.”
In this passage where Jesus says “Do you love me?” and “Follow me,” the Archbishop sees “the call to love … to give oneself completely.” Peter is not yet able, but 30 later, he “will bend his knees before God, be available and able to give himself totally. It is the gift of martyrdom, no one takes your life, I offer it myself. Here, Peter fulfills his vocation.”
“God is patient with us, His times are not our times,” concluded Archbishop Fisichella. He comes to us when He has decided, the Archbishop said, noting: He must find an open heart. Thus, he concluded, Peter’s profession of faith “must also become ours, capable of giving our life to the Lord Jesus.”