Peter, thou lovest Me?
At the end of June, we will celebrate the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. This feast gives us a good opportunity to meditate on the appointment of St. Peter by Our Lord as the first pope, and, more precisely, his reinstatement as head of the apostles after the Resurrection.
The gospel of St. John relates this famous apparition of Our Lord to St. Peter after the Resurrection. On that day, Jesus appeared to the apostles by the Lake of Tiberias. The disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing but, following Jesus, they had a miraculous fishing. After that, Jesus had lunch with them. According to St. John, it was the third time that Jesus appeared to His disciples since the Resurrection.
After lunch, Jesus took St. Peter apart: “Peter, lovest Me more than these?” Peter was surprised: “Yes, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Following that answer, Peter was confirmed in his job of Shepherd of souls: “Feed my lambs.”
But this was not enough, a second and a third time, Jesus asked the same question to St. Peter, who was wondering what was happening: “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Following that triple profession of love, St. Peter was officially confirmed in his function of Shepherd of the Church: “Feed my sheep.”
Then Peter realised what Jesus wanted him to do: he had to do a triple confession of faith to make reparation for the triple denial by which he betrayed His Master during the night of the Passion.
Peter was man with great generosity, but he had his weakness. Out of fear of persecution, he denied His Master on the very day of his priestly ordination. We may wonder how it was possible that, while Our Lord knew of his frailty, yet He had chosen this man to be the Shepherd of His Church? Jesus, nevertheless, didn’t want to grant the gift of impeccability to St. Peter, but rather founded His Church upon a man who betrayed Him the night of His Passion.
In the same manner, Peter’s successors are frail. The infallibility they possess in the matters of faith does not give them the privilege of not sinning, and we see that in a critical manner in this present-day situation of crisis of the Church.
Why God made such a choice? It is because, since the Incarnation, in His dealings with us, God decided to act through men. If we want to learn about God, we need to be taught by men. If we want to become a member of Christ’s Church, we need to receive the sacrament of baptism from a man, the priest. If we want to obtain the forgiveness of our sins, we need to confess these sins to a man, the priest. Every time, when men want to communicate with God, they must do so though a priest, a man appointed by the Church to do so.
Let us meditate on that beautiful reality of the Church, instituted by Our Lord to reach forth to men.
With the eyes of faith, through the weakness of the human element of the Church, the faithful are able to contemplate the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Mystical Spouse of Christ, firmly established on the rock of St. Peter.
During this Month of June, Month of the Sacred Heart, pray for the priests, who have been entrusted by Our Lord to guide souls. Like St. Peter, they are frail, yet they are the men who are leading the flock entrusted to their care by the Good Shepherd.
More specifically, please pray for the young men who will be ordained priests at the SSPX seminaries of Dillwyn, Econe and Zaitzkofen.
Father Dominique Boulet
 John XXI, 15-19