Today is the first day of Advent. In little more than a week, Pope Francis will open the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Advent has been called Little Lent, because it is a time of repentance in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. In Greek, “repentance” is metanoia—a “turning.”
One of the Pope’s messages to us during the Year of Mercy is that Peter “turned.” In a recent homily, Francis talked about how, late at night on Holy Thursday, Peter denied Jesus three times. Then Peter heard a rooster crow and realized that he lost everything when he denied the Lord. At precisely that moment, Jesus was led to another room, across the courtyard, and as he passed he fixed his gaze on Peter.
“The Gospel of Luke,” Pope Francis said, “recounts that ‘Peter cried bitterly.’ “However,” Francis continued, “that gaze transformed Peter’s heart.”
Pope Francis urged his listeners to think about Jesus’ gaze on us. “He always looks at us with love,” the Pope promises.
Our prayer today: Lord of Mercy, fix your loving gaze on me and help me repent for my sinful mistakes.
(The Lord Jesus Christ, painting by Heinrich Hofmann)