In the second section of the book the Holy Father discusses the Apostles one by one. He begins with Peter. The Pope teaches about Simon Peter’s background in Galilee, his call to be one of the initial five disciples (Jewish rabbies traditionally had five disciples) and then Simon being given his new name and his new calling to be the Rock.
The Pope teaches very movingly from the heart. So often portrayed as the harsh dogmatic disciplinarian of the church, these catecheses reveal Benedict XVI to be, at heart, a gentle, intelligent and clear teacher. St Peter’s struggles are laid out clearly and sympathetically as an example for our own spiritual journey. Like Peter, we are called by Christ to embark on a magnificent adventure. Like Peter we learn that “the school of faith is not a triumphal march but a journey marked daily by suffering and love, trials and faithfulness.”
He goes on to the end of the chapter outlining in detail from the New Testament Peter’s pre-eminent place among the apostles, his emerging leadership role and his poignant post-resurrection discussion with the Lord–“Do you love me Peter?” “You know that I love you.” The Pope points out that twice Jesus uses the term ‘agape’ for love–total unconditional self giving love. Peter replies that he ‘fileo’ loves Christ–using the word for friendship. Finally Jesus uses this word too, and thus accepts Peter’s limitations in love and, by extension, we see that Jesus calls us to unconditional love (for that is what he offers us) but he understands our limitations and comes to walk beside us in friendship in order to lead us home.
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