Cardinal Ratzinger’s Homily

A Gospel that evolved in meaning over the pope’s life, from the Vatican Information Service:

“Follow me! Together with the command to feed his flock, Christ proclaimed to Peter that he would die a martyr’s death. With those words, which conclude and sum up the dialogue on love and on the mandate of the universal shepherd, the Lord recalls another dialogue, which took place during the Last Supper. There Jesus had said: ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied: ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow me afterward.’ (Jn 13:33,36). Jesus from the Supper went towards the Cross, went towards his resurrection – he entered into the paschal mystery; and Peter could not yet follow him. Now – after the resurrection – comes the time, comes this ‘afterward.’ By shepherding the flock of Christ, Peter enters into the paschal mystery, he goes towards the cross and the resurrection. The Lord says this in these words: ‘… when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go’ (Jn 21:18). In the first years of his pontificate, still young and full of energy, the Holy Father went to the very ends of the earth, guided by Christ. But afterwards, he increasingly entered into the communion of Christ’s sufferings; increasingly he understood the truth of the words: ‘Someone else will fasten a belt around you.’ And in this very communion with the suffering Lord, tirelessly and with renewed intensity, he proclaimed the Gospel, the mystery of that love which goes to the end (cf. Jn 13:1).

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