Monday, April 19, 2010
Recently I saw two newspaper columns whose attacks on the Pope were an embarassment of exaggeration and ignorance. I find the end of chapter 21 in John's Gospel helpful in dealing with this present crisis.
Instead of the more familiar designation of Peter as the "rock" on which the church is built, Jesus tells Peter that he is a shepherd and that his authority is based on his love for Jesus. Jesus expects Peter and his successors to love and care for the faithful as a shepherd does his sheep. This has a very different feel from the rock imagery and expands my expectation of the way a pope leads.
To reverse Peter's denying Jesus three times, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Jesus wants Peter to see that he is making him the leader despite his failings. He doesn't expect Peter and his successors to be without fault. So I know that a pope may make mistakes in governing the Church.
Jesus doesn't give the sheep to Peter. He expects Peter to take care of them for him. So I belong to Jesus, not to a pope. My faith is not in the papacy, no matter how much I may cherish and respect it. My faith is in Jesus.
These different expectations keep the present crisis from getting me too upset.
(This lovely waterfall was in a small stream that I passed last Sunday.)