The gospel today, on Jesus making Peter the head of the church is not exclusively for Popes or Bishops who are in such high positions, but it is also meant for us because most of us, in one way or another are placed in authority over others. The Holy Scriptures addresses the hearts of all. Therefore, it would benefit us to know what this requires from us.
It is required of Peter to love the Lord with utmost love (having asked 3 times) – if he is to be in charge. Peter was always the first to assert himself; he suggested that it would be good to build booths when they saw Jesus transfigured before them, that he would lay down his life for Jesus even if all will deny him. He was so sure of himself and appears to be bolder than the other disciples and yet it was he who denied Jesus 3 times. He was distressed when asked by Christ three times if he loves the Lord. That was certainly a lesson in humility by virtue of which qualified him to be head of the church. Jesus knew that in Peter’s betrayal he would not repeat the same mistake.
If it were left to us, we would certainly doubt to put someone in charge, with good reason, because of his dishonesty and fickle mind. Christ did not change His plans. Peter in spite of himself, became head of Christ’s church. The real reason is Peter realized that he could not betray Christ again for Christ loved him even during the betrayal, even when he was still in sin. Sin gets a good hold on us when we focus on it and we are almost obsessed with making it up with God. We constantly feel guilty in front of God. and could not bring ourselves to meet him when we are still in sin. The publican approached God in the temple as a sinner. We are not comfortable with His mercy or we can be presumptuous about it. We would rather face God with a clean slate, as if, it were possible.. Psychologically, Catholics feel better to face God after confession but would hesitate to face God in sin. It IS the love of God that makes us repent not because of our effort to reconcile ourselves with God. It is his grace that makes us go to confession. He loved us while we were still in sin and that is why we go back to him. It’s called grace. Only when we realize the great love another one has for us would we most likely not offend the one who loves us.. We keep on sinning because we have not gotten in touch with the love of God and how much that love cost him to the extent of dying for sinful humanity. But there were some conditions and qualities Christ could not dispense with. That quality is love, Here the demand of Christ of love from Peter could not escape our attention. Christ laid out to Peter what loving the Lord means. If you love me he says feed my sheep. At first glance it sounded like a utilitarian love. It’s like when we were young Mom, it’s usually the Mom, who will say, son if you love me study hard or clean your room or some other task and we of course would obey with a grudge. But with Jesus it is different. It speaks about the nature of his person and mission. Peter must do what Christ must did for all humanity. Christ did only what he saw the Father was doing – the will to save the whole of humanity. It was his mission to call the lost sheep of Israel and by extension the whole world. True love is to behave like the father and the son in their passion to save all of God’s children. It is in the union of wills where true love is found. Peter must love Christ not as if Christ was an object but that he must allow or conform his will to be taken up into the intimacy of love within Father Son and Holy Spirit. When this happens then Peter would behave like God, namely, having a burning passionate desire to save and care for all God’s sheep no matter what it costs.
He must not waver nor be distracted from this mission. He should not ask whether John will not die until Christ comes again. He will have a hint of what would happen to him in his old age. He too will die like Christ but he does not know how he will die.
He is not be curious as to what will happen to others who follow Christ. Nothing matters except to do what Christ asks of him namely, to behave like God – to be passionate in bringing others into the kingdom of heaven. The church has so much woes and agony in our present time. Our shepherds lost the passion for taking care of Christ’s sheep. The sheep served the shepherds. Human love alone can cause us so much sorrow and pain. When our will is not in conformity with God’s will then our will reigns supreme for others and we are the sole judges of what is good for us and for others. Peace and security can only be found in a person whose will is in conformity with God’s wall. True love is found in the union of our will to God. It is here where fear vanishes and the following goes on in our lives. Then that is the time when we can be in charge in order to serve.