In his homily at the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis reflected on the dialogue between Jesus and Peter, highlighting the main passages of this encounter. The Pope explained what kind of looks Jesus gave to Peter: “of choosing, of forgiveness, of mission”.
At the beginning of John’s Gospel, he recalled, Andrew went to his brother Peter and told him: “We’ve found the Messiah!”, and there was an enthusiastic gaze. Then Jesus put his eyes on Peter and said: “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Peter”. “This is the first look, the one of call. And how is Peter’s soul feeling after that first look? – wondered the Pope – Enthusiastic. It’s time to follow the Lord”.
In another passage, Bergoglio shifts his attention to the look between Christ and his disciple during the tragic night of the Holy Thursday, when Peter disowned Jesus three times. “He lost everything. He lost his love”, and when the Lord met his eyes, he wept. In Luke’s Gospel this action is enriched with the adverb “bitterly”. “That earlier enthusiasm about following Jesus had turned to grief, because he had sinned. That look by Jesus changed Peter’s heart, more than before. The first change was being given a new name, which indicated a new vocation. That second look, instead, changed his heart, it’s a conversion to love”.
Taking his inspiration directly from the day’s readings, Francis then talked about their third encounter, which meaning is that of “mission” and of demonstration of Peter’s love. The Lord asked him three times for “a confirmation of his love” and urged him to feed his sheep. When he was asked that question a third time, Peter “was hurt and said: ‘Lord, You know everything. You know I love You’.” This is when Jesus repeated the disciple’s mission, highlighting that he would not receive a reward, on the contrary he would follow Jesus on his way to his crucifixion.
“We too can reflect: what look is Jesus giving me today? How is Jesus looking at me? With a call? With a pardon? With a mission? He asks us something, he forgives us for something and he gives us a mission. Jesus is now coming on the altar. May each one of us think: ‘Lord, You are here, among us. Fix your gaze on me and tell me what I must do; how I must repent for my mistakes, my sins; what courage do I need to go forward on the path that You first walked.”
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo