Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
(Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19)
Fishermen seem to love their pastime more than others. When they arrive at the water, they take off their watches with little urge to know the time. For fishermen a successful day fishing is not one in which they catch a quantity of fish but just one in which they are on the water. Because of the unique absorption of fishermen with their occupation, Jesus gauges Peter’s capacity for leadership with a question regarding his preference for him over fishing.
Peter is not only a fisherman by trade but has been portrayed by the evangelist as a fisher of men and women. Now Jesus wants him to undertake a new profession. He is to be the shepherd of his flock; that is, he will oversee the care of the community of believers. Before he confers on him the ministry, he tests Peter with a trifold question concerning Peter’s love. First of all, he asks Peter if he loves him “more than these.” Some people think that “these” refers to the other disciples in the sense that Peter loves Jesus more than the other disciples do. But it is more likely that “these” refers to the accoutrements of fishing. When Peter assures Jesus of his predilection of him to nets, boats, lines and hooks, Jesus puts him in charge of the Christian community.
Pope Francis seems to be a worthy successor of Peter. His love for the Lord and his flock is palpable. Although this generation has been blessed with other gracious popes, Francis has shown a unique capacity to care for all people. As much as the Church is mother of all peoples populating the planet, Francis has exhibited the desire to touch them with God’s mercy.