SAINT PHILIP NERI, PRIEST (MEMORIAL)
Do you love me?
In August 1978, John Paul I became the first pope in eight hundred years not to be crowned with a tiara. His successor, Pope St. John Paul II, also declined the tiara: “This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of . . . temporal power.” The Holy Father knew that the mission of the papacy is to be a shepherd of souls, not to exercise worldly power and authority. The mission is to respond to God’s call to love and care for his people.
Today’s Gospel describes the “installation” of Peter, our first pope, at the Sea of Galilee. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Perhaps it was a subtle reminder of the three times Peter had denied Jesus, but it was also an invitation. Each time Peter answered yes, Jesus told him to “feed my lambs” or “tend my sheep” (21:15, 16, 17). Jesus of course knew that Peter loved him, but he was inviting him to demonstrate that love in action. And so began the pope’s primary mission: to lead the Church through loving service of God’s people.
This mission is not limited to the pope, however. Jesus invites you, in your own way, to demonstrate your love in action as well. He has already chosen you for a mission, as he chose Peter, and he knows that you can do it. He knows that you can accomplish his purposes as you stay close to his love and keep trying to love him in return.
Do you love me? That question and invitation will come to you every day, perhaps multiple times and in various ways. Often your response will involve making some kind of sacrifice, whether time or resources. So whenever it comes, know that it’s Jesus giving you another chance to answer him. Don’t pass up the opportunity! Show him your love by the way you care for his people. Tend his sheep and feed his lambs wherever you find them. Believe that as you do, you are sharing the love of Christ himself with the people around you. You may not wield worldly power or authority, but you are changing lives in the most important way possible.
“Lord, you know that I love you! Help me show that love in my actions today.”
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20