1ST MAY 2022
IN OUR EMPTINESS, JESUS COMES TO CALL US TO FOLLOW HIM
In the first reading, the Apostles were charged before the Sanhedrin for preaching the resurrected Lord and spreading the news of His resurrection throughout Jerusalem despite warnings from religious leaders to refrain from doing so. I was particularly concerned with their courage to speak the truth declaring: “we must obey God rather than men” and their joy for having been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, would you be happy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Christ?
This Apostolic conviction to speak the truth and accept dishonor for Christ’s sake is what we all must be ready to embrace if we should be worthy of the name Christians. We are often guilty of indifference and silence just because we value our honor and prestige more than the obligation to preserve and speak the truth. May God fill us with apostolic zeal and courage to stand for Him and declare Him in the presence of those who are enemies of the truth.
In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, the disciples have returned to their ordinary lives. No more were they huddled behind locked doors in Jerusalem, trying to process the news of the empty tomb. They are now back home in Galilee, and they decide to go fishing for the night.
The risen Lord appears to His disciples in the first half of today's Gospel and provides them with a sign of their mission in the form of a miraculous catch of fish followed by a barred fish breakfast served by Jesus Himself. The second section is a conversation between Jesus and Simon in which Simon is asked three times if he loves Jesus, and he responds that he does, as if in atonement for his three denials of Jesus.
The two metaphors used in the story, namely; fishing and shepherding, are the duties of the Church in her missionary work. Peter, as a forgiven sinner, is chosen for the quality of his love to serve as a leader in a community of brothers and sisters. In his primary mission, Peter is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.
The meeting with Jesus beside the lakeshore can be seen as the story of Peter’s repentance, restoration, and declaration of faith. His repeated answer “Yes, Lord!” is surely a declaration of love and loyalty. It is not so easy to see how it can be a confession of guilt. But it does correspond to Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus. Peter was not the boastful man who thought he was better than the other disciples but a wiser and humbler disciple that would not claim more than he can deliver.
The Love of our Lord is the Essence we profess in the church. Peter’s meeting with the risen Christ reminds us that professions of love tells the only side of the truth. In reality, our love is hardly ever unconditional. Like Peter, we need to bring our failures to God for healing. We can join Peter today when he declares: “I love you, Lord”.