In his homily, Pope Francis also pointed St. Paul and his experience of liberation in finding "a way out of his own impending execution." In addition to praising God for giving him the strength to evangelize, Paul speaks of "a much greater opening" to eternal life, "which awaits him at the end of his earthly race."
By contemplating this passage, "we can see the whole life of the Apostle in terms of 'going out' in service to the Gospel," he said.
Francis then turned to Peter's confession of faith and the mission entrusted to him by Jesus. Jesus, he said, "shows us that the life of Simon, the fishermen of Galilee – like the life of each of us – opens, opens up fully, when it receives from God the Father the grace of faith."
By responding to Jesus' call, Simon Peter sets out on "a long and difficult journey," but one "that will lead him to go out of himself, leaving all his human supports behind, especially his pride tinged with courage and generous selflessness."
Francis noted how Jesus had prayed that Peter's faith would not fail, and how he looked on Peter with compassion after the apostle had denied him.
At that moment, "Simon Peter was set free from the prison of his selfish pride and fear, and overcame the temptation of closing his heart to Jesus's call to follow him along the way of the cross," he said.
The Pope then turned to the scene in Acts when Peter, after having been set free, knocks on the door of Mary. The servant Rhoda, although joyful in recognizing Peter's voice, doesn't let him in, but instead runs to tell her mistress.
Pope Francis said that the account, "which can seem comical, makes us perceive the climate of fear that led the Christian community to stay behind closed doors, but also closed to God's surprises."
"This detail speaks to us of a constant temptation for the Church, that of closing in on herself in the face of danger," he said, but noted that "the small openings through which God can work" are also visible, and can be seen by how many in the house "had gathered and were praying."
Before concluding his homily, Pope Francis offered a special greeting the delegation sent by "the beloved" Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, led by His Eminence Methodios, Metropolitan of Boston.
Among the 25 new metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium from Pope Francis was one American, Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda, who oversees the diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
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