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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

October 22nd: St. John Paul II, pope

Gospel text (Jn 21,15-17): After Jesus and his disciples had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, «Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?». He answered, «Yes, Lord, you know that I love you». And Jesus said, «Feed my lambs». A second time Jesus said to him, «Simon, son of John, do you love me?». And Peter answered, «Yes, Lord, you know that I love you». Jesus said to him, «Look after my sheep». And a third time He said to him, «Simon, son of John, do you love me?». Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, «Do you love me?», and he said, «Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you». Jesus then said, «Feed my sheep».

«Feed my sheep»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, in the feast day of St. John Paul II, we contemplate how gentle Jesus was with His Apostles: once again He helps them to fish and has breakfast with them. Appealing! But we also notice that the Lord bestows a special treatment – a symptom of a unique request - to Simon Peter.

For in fact, Jesus Christ takes him aside and keeps with him a very private conversation. Three times the Lord asks him if he loves Him. Three times reminding us of his three denials! Peter feels overwhelmed and, this is why he just responds: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you"(Jn 21:17), as saying, «despite everything – as you well know - despite my weaknesses, I love you». Three times, also, the Master has the delicacy to confirm him in his mission: "Feed my lambs".

On such a day as today the polish bishop Karol Wojtyla was elected Bishop of Rome. What a difficult answer for him who was fully aware of the difficulties! But it was not a matter of his forces or of the circumstances of the moment; it was the call of God. Soon afterwards, the Holy Father evoked it: «”Be not afraid'. What are we to be afraid of? We should not fear the truth about ourselves. One day when Simon Peter became aware of this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said: “go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man”. I think that it was not only Peter who became aware of this truth. Every man realizes it. Each one of Peter successors realized it. And in a particularly clear way, who now is answering».

They were difficult times for the Church, as they can also now be for us. Times that can make us tremble... but should never make us deny or doubt God. On the 25th anniversary of his election, St. Joh Paul II came back to the theme: «Humanly speaking, how could I not tremble? It was necessary to have recourse to divine mercy so that to the question: 'Do you accept?', I could respond with confidence: ' in the obedience of the faith, before Christ my Lord, commending myself to the Mother of Christ and of the Church, conscious of the great difficulties, I accept!». You do the same!