What if there were a call for applications to become a Pope, what CV would one present? What questions would they ask during the interview?
In the Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three questions: “Do you love me?” Now let’s face it: Peter’s CV was far from being an impressive one, at least for the good reason: By the fire, on Thursday before the crucifixion, for three times denied to know Jesus.
Peter found it hard to forgive himself or to accept that he had denied for three times his friend and Master. And when the cock crew, Peter wept bitterly. He realized what he had done: he has failed his Master... he has denied his friend. Peter could not accept it, he could not live with it and he wept. He could not stoop lower than that.
Now with this record, who would have thought that, Jesus would even think to consider Peter to be the shepherd of his flock? But Jesus’ criteria are not our criteria. He looks at the heart of man and looking at Peter’s heart, Jesus knew that Peter was fit for purpose. Why? Didn’t also Judas betray Jesus? But Peter was different than Judas. Peter learnt from his mistake and grew through it whereas Judas let himself to be conquered by his sin. After his shortcoming, Peter reformed himself whereas Judas closed himself from God’s love and mercy. Peter moved from his sinfulness, Judas did not.
By the fire, on Thursday before the crucifixion, Peter, three times denied to know Jesus. By the fire, on this Easter day, Jesus asks Peter to shepherd his sheep. Jesus, not only did He forgive Peter’s sin but also showed enough trust in him and chose him to be the first Pope.
Like Peter and Judas and the rest of the apostles we have our own sins and shortcomings, and Jesus, as He did with Peter is always ready to forgive our sins and to trust us. Jesus does not leave us enslaved by our past sins. Jesus gives us the possibility to be freed from our past sins. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “The one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him the old things have passed away; a new world has come.” (2Cor 5:17)
Peter’s experience could also be our experience if only we have the courage to accept God’s forgiveness and love. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we can obtain the forgiveness from Jesus. He forgives us and loves us inspite of the fact that we have denied him, we have disbelieved in him, we have given up on him, we have sinned against him. It takes courage to believe in God, to believe that God is ready to forgive us when we repent, to believe that notwithstanding everything God keeps on loving us. We need the courage to accept God’s love and mercy and to accept ourselves.
After his despair, Peter recovered his faith and was able to say: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!” Peter has to be our role-model for our repentance and reforming ourselves. We should not allow our past to overcome us as in the case of Judas, but we should allow Jesus to work in us and lead us to our repentance and reform and we should let him to put us to work for him again.