By now, you’re probably aware that one of the most consistent themes in the preaching of Pope Francis is his stress on the mercy of God, on God’s forgiveness and compassion. That ties in beautifully with this Sunday’s Gospel. After cooking His disciple’s breakfast, Jesus beckons Peter aside and we have the three-fold dialogue: “Peter, do you love me?” “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” “Feed my sheep.”
I can so easily imagine Peter sitting on the beach eating his fish and eggs, looking at Jesus, wondering when he was going to be taken to the woodshed for his denial of the Lord. It reminds me of some times in my childhood when I knew I had done something wrong and a spanking was in the offing. At some point in the evening, Dad would crook his finger, and off we went to the basement! Now remember, this is 50+ years ago, and spanking was viewed much differently than it is today.
I hope and pray our world takes to heart this message of mercy and compassion. The lack of those virtues is one of the main reasons there is so much verbal, physical and mental violence in our world today (see opening sentences). And it’s not just violence between individuals or peoples, but also within ourselves: how unmerciful we can be to ourselves when we make negative judgments about ourselves.
The lack of mercy also takes place within churches. Doctrinal divisions over questions not fundamental to the faith have created intolerance. Even musical preferences are often treated not as mere differences of opinion but as means of testing genuine faith. (If you sing this style or type of music you’re OK, the other style and you’re a heretic).
Let’s close with a sentence from the Responsorial Psalm: “For His anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, His good will.” May it somehow, someway be so for us.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.