Friday, April 13, 2012

Why a pope?

Today we hear the appearance story where Jesus gives Peter not only an instruction about fishing, but in John's gospel a sentence that defines in the most simple terms the the role of the pope.

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

It was the common understanding at that time that 153 was the number that represent the number of species of fish. In other words, the net included everyone.

Most importantly the net was not torn. Jesus knew that after his ascension the greatest challenge was going to be to hold the community together. It would be simple it all he wanted was a nominal kind of unity where everyone preached and believed whatever.

The role of the apostles and Peter in particular was to not only hold the church together as it grew but to hold fast to the message of Jesus, even the unpopular parts. From generation to generation what is popular has and will continue to change like fashion.

Today we pray for the successors to the apostles, the bishops, who struggle with that same mission, to re-articulate the gospel in the language of the day, allowing those non-essentials to change, while holding fast the unchangeable truth of the Good News. It is never simple, that is why we trust that the Holy Spirit is there to help restore the net that has been torn.