25 May 2006

The School of Faith

Yesterday, in his General Audience address, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI continued his powerful reflections on the person of Saint Peter the Apostle.

Referring to the faith of the Prince of the Apostles, the Successor of Peter said:

His was still an initial faith, a journeying faith. It would come to true fullness only through the experience of the paschal events. But, nonetheless, it was already faith, open to a greater reality -- open above all because it was not faith in soemthing, but faith in Someone: in him, Christ.
Thus our faith is also an initial faith and we must still journey a long way. However, it is essential that it be an open faith that lest itself be guided by Jesus, because not only does he know the way, but he is the way.What comforting and assuring words the Holy Father speaks to us! He continues:

The school of faith is not a triumphal march, but a journey strewn with sufferings and love, trials and faithfulness to be renewed every day.
Like Peter, we follow willingly after the Lord and we also deny the Lord and betray him. But we can take courage and consolation from the example of Peter because he did not let his failings stand in the way of his following after Christ. Rather, through his failings he came to know, in a more profound way than before, the love of Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI points out that, in the passage where Jesus thrice asks Peter, "Do you love me?" there is a distinction in the Greek in the words used for "love". The Holy Father says:

Jesus asks Peter the first time: "Simon . . . do you love me ('agapas-me')" with this total and unconditional love (cf. John 21:15)? Before the experience of the betrayal, the apostle would certainly have said: "I love you ('agapo-se') unconditionally." Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the tragedy of his own weakness, he says with humility: "Lord, I love you ('filo-se')," that is, "I love you with my poor human love."
Can any of us love Jesus with more than our poor human love? What else have we to offer him?

Pope Benedict continues:

Christ insists: "Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?" And Peter repeats the answer of his humble human love: "Kryie, filo-se," "Lord, I love you as I know how to love."
The third time Jesus only says to Simon: "Fileis-me?", "Do you love me?" Simon understood that for Jesus his poor lve, the only one he is capable of, is enough, and yet he is saddened that the Lord had to say it to him in this way. ... It would seem that Jesus adapted himself to Peter, rather than Peter to Jesus!
Such is the powerful and tremendous beauty of the love of Christ, who loves us as we are and calls us to grow in love, while at the same asking only of us the love that we can give.

Thank you, Holy Father, for these beautiful reflections! I eagerly await your continuing reflections on the Apostles!


  1. Hello I am a Parishoner at ur Church. I have been going to this church since I was about 5. I was looking through all the blogs in Effingham and I came to your. I reconiged your name. It is so weird to see you outside the church. When I see you in church you are always so serious. I don't think I have ever seen you smile (no offense). Its nice you see you loosen up on your blog. Well just stop by to tell you that

    God Bless
    Liz Brown

  2. Liz,

    My apologies for taking so long to reply to your comment. Up until now, I have not made it a practice to reply to comments, but now I hope to begin doing so.

    I took no offense to your comment that I do not smile a great deal in church; it is a comment that I frequently receive and it is true.

    This being said, the fact that I do not smile much in church means neither that I am unhappy nor that I never smile. It means, quite simply, that I do not carry a natural smile on my face and I find wearing such a smile - at least for me - to be fake. When I do smile, they are genuine smiles and - I am told - light up a room, for reasons I do not fully understand.

    At any rate, I hope you enjoyed the blog.

    Peace and Joy,

    Fr. Daren