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On The Feast Of The See Of Saint Peter We Recall The Call of Jesus is Shepherding

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The New Testament discloses Peter’s life journey with Jesus of Nazareth. He was known originally by the Hebrew name ‘Simeon’ or the Greek form of that name, ‘Simon.’ He was son of John and was from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee. He was an ordinary Jew, a married and an uneducated man whose livelihood depends on his family profession as fisherman at the lakeside town of Capernaum. It was Simon’s boat that Jesus used when he preached the crowd, at the very beginning of his public ministry, and thus, entered into Simon’s life . When Simon obeyed to let down his nets in deep water at Jesus’ words, he was amazed in seeing a miraculous catch of fish, thus realized his unworthiness to have Jesus in his boat. Jesus called him to be his disciple- fisher of men. Thereafter, Simon accompanied throughout the public life of Jesus. It was Simon who expressed incredible insight and depth of his faith in the confession of Christ as the Son of living God. A new dimension of understanding was thus revealed and raised awareness of Jesus’ divinity which was approved by Jesus and occasioned Simon’s ordination.

Jesus gave Simon the new name of ‘Cephas’, an Aramaic appellation meaning ‘rock.This was translated into Greek as ‘Petros’ from the Greek ‘petra’, and became the Latin ‘Petrus’ and the English ‘Peter.’ When Jesus prophesied that he would suffer and die, it was Peter who rebuked Jesus and in turn was rebuked. It was Peter who overruled Jesus’ prophecy of his denial at the last supper and declared that even if the other disciples abandoned him, he would suffer death rather than disown his Lord. It was Peter who cut off Malchus’ right ear with a sword at Gethsemane garden. And when Jesus was arrested, he did find his way to the palace of the high priest where Jesus had been taken. But when confronted in the courtyard with the danger of admitting association with Jesus, he chose to deny his discipleship. The degree of his shame and the depth of his love were revealed when he later realized that Jesus’ prophecy became true, he wept bitterly. His denial was not a loss of faith but demonstrated as a weakness of his will even momentary. It was Peter who once had left his boat and everything at the shore of Capernaum for Jesussake, went back to restart his old way of living by the Sea of Tiberias after Jesus’ death. But the Risen Jesus reappears to Saint Peter and other six disciples there to renew their vocation.

We remember well that the unforgettable breakfast Jesus prepared and served his disciples by the Sea of Galilee recorded in the Fourth Gospel (Jh.21). St. John in his gospel mentions a small detail that it was a “charcoal fire” on which Jesus cooked the fish by the Sea of Tiberias. The only other time this particular word is used when Peter stood in front of a “charcoal fire” in the courtyard of the high priest, Annas. This little detail of “charcoal fire” draws together both moments in St. Peter’s life. In the first “charcoal fire”moment at the darkness of an evil night, Peter denied Jesus thrice by saying that ‘I don’t know him’ when Jesus was tried before the officials. And in the second “charcoal fire” moment in the morning of new possibilities, Jesus examined Peter’s love for him by asking three times that ‘Peter, do you really love me more than these other disciples love me?’ This is an implicit rebuke recalling the claim Peter made the night he denied Jesus that he would lay down his life even though other disciples would fall away, he would not. What led Peter to the denial was his confidence in his own devotion, in his great loyalty and on his unwavering love of Jesus. But what restored and sustained Peter’s reinstatement was our Lord’s faithful love and trust that he felt for him when he said, ‘yes Lord, you know that I love you.’

Finally, we find Jesus Christ renewing Peter’s vocation from the fisher of men– as a disciple of Jesus to be a shepherd of Christ’s flock- as an apostle of Risen Jesus. Thus, Shepherding the God’sflock, which God has obtained with the blood of his only Son Jesus, is a vocation of which the Holy Spirit has made overseers to feed and to tend his sheep. In Saint Peter’s words, to oversee those who are in our care not out of compulsion but willingly; not for the personal gain but freely; not lording it over them, but by being an example to them (1Pt.5:1-11). While overseeing the church, shepherds are called to exercise leadership over the flock as Christ does—with grace and care, with humility in dealings with one another, not as duty entrusted but for the love of Jesus Christ. Whileshepherding the people of God, Christ himself restores, supports, strengthens and establishes his steadfast love within oneself to share the same care and love with others as he did. According toCatholic doctrine, the direct papal successor to Saint Peter is the incumbent pope, currently our loving Pope Francis. As today is the feast of “The See of Saint Peter, the Apostle, let us wish and thank our loving Holy Father, Pope Francis, our spiritual shepherd for his service to love and care, to tend and feed Christ’s flock in words and deeds.





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