Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" And Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)
I have no doubt that Pope Benedict has been hearing these words for a long time.
Do you love me?
For years the Holy Father has been feeding Jesus' lambs. Now he has shocked the world. He is retiring. The first time a pope has done this in close to 600 years. Did he hear that question again?
Do you love me?
We know Pope Benedict loves Jesus. We know because of the way he writes about him and teaches about him and talks about him.
"He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God contained in a human heart and a human face". - Pope Benedict XVI, Sunday homily, 7/8/12
I cried when I first heard the news of his leaving the Chair of St. Peter. And my eyes have welled up with tears quite often since that moment. Sometimes with sadness and grief, but more often with love and awe.
Awe that the Holy Father has done such a brave, humble thing. Awe that he has laid down his life for Jesus and for His Church.
Like others, I have my own memories. As a convert, Pope Benedict is the only pope I have known from beginning to end. His apology to some of the victims of clergy sexual abuse, face to face, grabbed my heart.
And I remember so clearly, standing in St. Peter's square, looking up at the first pope I had ever seen in person. And my eyes welled up with tears again. That was the moment I knew I loved il Papa.
Pope Benedict has been a faithful shepherd. Word has it that he did not really want to be pope, but he said yes. Now the Jesus he loves and serves is asking him again, "Do you love me?"
"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (Jesus) said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” - (John 21:18-19)
Copyright 2013 Colleen Spiro
About the Author
Colleen Spiro is a Catholic mother, grandmother and a deacon’s wife. A certified spiritual director, Colleen loves to share her faith and encourage others through her retreats and writings. You can read her reflections at her website, Catholic Prayer Life and read or listen to her podcast at Finding God in the Everyday.