As I read, “For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted,” a recent interview by Pope Francis comes to mind. The interviewer asks why Pope Francis calls himself a sinner. The pope gives the example of Simon Peter. We can only imagine, with John 23:34 as our guide, the conversation that took place between Jesus and Simon Peter on the Sunday of Jesus’ resurrection.
Pope Francis asks us to think about what Peter must have said to Jesus. To approach Jesus after he saw him agonize, be spat upon, brutally murdered for Peter’s sins AND our sins, yet he still denied Jesus three times outside the High Priest’s house. Yet Jesus just says, “Peter, tend my sheep.” Not only does Jesus show mercy towards Peter, but Jesus entrusts him with the keys to build his Church. It is an incredible example of forgiveness, but there is also a complete surrender of Jesus to Peter, the one who denied him, to build the Church.
Let us remember this story as we enter the second half of the Lenten season. May we remember those who are seeking our mercy while we pray to receive mercy from others.
—Mary Catherine Koehler is a Campus Minister at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. She also co-moderates the school’s Ignatians for Peace and Justice and S.A.D.D. groups.