|St. Peter with "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven"|
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"I was thinking about Fatima again. And I was trying to understand the desire of Francisco Marto (one of the three shepherd children of Fatima) to console Jesus. I found it so strange, that I thought that he must have -- because of his young age and immaturity -- misinterpreted the visions.
– John 21:17
And yet that seemed like too simple of an answer. There must be something to Francisco's desire to console Jesus that I did not understand. After all Francisco and his little sister have been beatified by the Church and so he couldn't be totally mistaken on this very important point.
The answer came to me -- somehow, I don't remember exactly how -- that Francisco was responding to the many insults hurled at Our Lord. Just think about the multitude of insults hurled at Jesus and the Church daily in our modern society that denies the very existence of God.
And yet Our Lord is forgiving and only desires for us to come to him in a sincere and humble act of faith.
I'm not saying that we should think of Jesus as being sad and therefore in need of consolation, but I think we should consider that He is being crucified again and again. And in that spirit we can offer our prayers for Him. Actually, I had an image in my mind of His Sacred Heart receiving multiple wounds -- like arrows.
He gladly suffers to redeem our sins, but these are like rocks thrown at Him by the very ones that He is trying to save from eternal damnation. I'm reminded of the words of Jesus to St. Paul, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Tonight as I was reciting the Our Father slowly and deliberately, I heard a new meaning in the words, "forgive us our trespasses".
I had been thinking in terms of offenses that I might have committed against others -- especially since this is followed by, "as we forgive those who trespass against us". But I now think of this more clearly as offenses against God Himself.
When we ask God to "forgive us our trespasses", we recognize His authority. And this is one way that we can console Our Lord. We can also offer prayers as Jacinto did asking that we may bear the suffering of others, for their "trespasses" against the Lord. We can make small sacrifices in our lives and offer them as a consolation to Our Lord, to help heal His wounded heart.
Jesus asked Simon Peter three times, "Do you love me?" And after Peter's replies Our Lord responded:
– "Feed my lambs."
– "Tend my sheep."
– "Feed my sheep."
If we truly love Jesus -- as we say we do -- then we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for others. This is what the "good shepherd" does for his flock. And like Peter we are called by Christ to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.