05/17/2006, 00.00
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Like Peter we should realise that Jesus, not us, transforms the world, Pope says

Benedict XVI describes the first amongst the apostles, stressing his historical nature and his conversion to God's plans.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Like Peter at the beginning of his journey with Jesus, "we too want God to transform the world right away, " but it was the Teacher himself who showed the first amongst the apostles and all Christians "that the path to the heart's transformation". The figure of Peter and the exacting law of following Christ require that, if necessary, we give up the whole world to save our souls, something best illustrated in the events surrounding the life of the Galilean fisherman.

Pope Benedict XVI today talked about this topic before a multicoloured and, thanks to the bright sun, festive crowd of 45,000 that had gathered in St Peter Square for the general audience.

White-Blue flags of Bavaria mixed with White-Red flags of Poland; the Yellow-Red flags of Spain mingled with the Yellow-White flags of Ukraine. Groups were distinguishable by the colours of dyed hair, white, yellow or blue or singled out by the multicoloured people waved.

With today's thoughts, Benedict XVI has begun a reflection on the apostles. He began with Peter who, "second only to Jesus, is the better known and most cited character in the New Testament".

Simon son of Jonah, said the Pope, as shown by recent archaeological excavations in Capernaum, where Peter's home is located, is a figure of history. Digs "have brought to light, under the eight-sided mosaic floor of a small Byzantine church, the elements of an older church that bear written invocations to Peter".

The Pope focused however on the Peter's role in the life of Jesus, starting with his calling, when he announced that "he would a fisher of men".

A married fisherman, Peter was "moved by a "sincere religious interest". In the Gospels Simon appears as someone who is decisive and impulsive, prepared to argue his points of view going so far as resorting to the use of force (see the episode of the sword in John, 18: 10). At the same time though, he is naive and timorous, and yet honest to the point of sincere repentance (Matthew, 26: 75).

The Gospels enable us to follow him as he makes his way along his spiritual path. The starting point was Jesus' calling".

"Trusting in the working presence of God in the history of his people, but pained that he could not see His powerful action in the events that he witnessed, [. . .] Peter wanted a Messiah who was a 'divine man', someone who would fulfill people's expectations by taking a path of humility and suffering. The alternative was clear: either privilege one's expectations by rejecting Jesus, or welcome Jesus in the truth of His mission, putting aside our, oh so human expectations".

"The figure of St Peter," the Pope said extemporaneously at the end of his speech, "is for us a source of great consolation. Like him we want God; we too want to be generous, but we also want God to be strong and transform the world according to our ideas. Instead, God chooses another path, that of transforming the heart in suffering and humility. Like Peter we must convert in order to understand that it is God that shows the path."

Finally, the Pope said, "Peter tells us: You think you have the recipe and must change Christianity, but it is the Lord who knows the path, it is the Lord who tells me and you that we must follow Christ with humility because He is the way, the truth and life". (FP)

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