Sunday, May 12, 2019

3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER: Forgiven and Trusted

May 5, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Unlike the other disciples who ran away when Jesus was arrested in the garden, Simon Peter had the courage to follow Jesus until the house of the high priest. But when he saw Jesus being beaten up by the temple guards, somehow his faith faltered. Three times he was questioned by the servants of the high priest about his association of Jesus and to all of them, he had only one answer: “I do not know him.” Then the cock crowed as Jesus warned him at the last supper. I find the crowing of the cock very significant because it marked the end of the night and the coming of the day. During the supper, Judas left the room and the writer was quick to add: “It was night.” It was not simply a reference of time. Rather, it also meant that it was the hour of darkness, the hour of Satan, the prince of the world. And on that night, Jesus’s disciples fell: first was Judas, then the others who fled, then, just as the night was about to end, Peter was the last to fall. Then the cock crowed.

In today’s reading, Peter and the disciples went fishing but they did not catch any during the night. At dawn, the risen Jesus stood by the shore and commanded them to lower their nets and they caught so much fish. During the night of Holy Thursday, they ran away and abandoned the Lord. Without the Lord, they caught nothing. Their fishermen skills amounted to nothing. Away from his father, the prodigal son went hungry. Away from Jesus, the disciples caught nothing. Jesus once told them: “Without me, you can do nothing.”

They found Jesus preparing breakfast for them at the shore. Here was the Lord whom they abandoned. They could have eaten a scolding for breakfast but they did not hear any reproach from the Lord. Instead, he told them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” He allowed them the opportunity to make up for their cowardice. He allowed them to bring him something which in truth, he gave them. His command enabled them to catch fish. Now, they are to offer him what they caught. It was an act of reparation. Eating breakfast together became an act of reconciliation after everything that happened in the middle of the night.

Then, Jesus turned towards Peter and three times, he asked the same question: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” As the servants of the high priest questioned Peter three times about his relation with Jesus, so now, Jesus questions Peter about his love: “Do you love me?” It was painful for Peter to be reminded of his denial. But the questions of the Lord were not meant to shame or hurt him. Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to rise from where he has fallen. As the adulterous woman met in Jesus the God of second chances, so now Peter meets the same God. All he had to do was to say “Yes, Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” That was enough. As the repentant prodigal son was welcomed, clothed and fed, so now, Peter was received, fed (with breakfast), and clothed with authority. The prodigal son was clothed with a robe and Peter was told: “Feed my lambs.” The prodigal son was given sandals to wear and Peter was told: “Tend my sheep.” A ring was placed on the prodigal son’s finger and Peter was told: “Feed my sheep.” Peter will now be catching men and his preaching will never be fruitless. His nets will always be full. He will no longer deny our Lord. Instead, he will boldly declare to the high priest: “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had killed him, hanging him on a tree.” Peter will declare what he himself received from the Lord: “repentance and forgiveness of sins.” Jesus is the Lamb who was slain and is worthy to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor, glory, and praise. It is with this power that he accompanies the preaching of Peter and the disciples. With his power, he provides the catch for the disciples’ nets. He who was raised on the Cross now draws all people back to himself. The disciples, who were the first recipients of his forgiveness, now gather together what were scattered by sin and bring them back to the Lord. Theirs is a message of forgiveness. Our repentance, our return to him, will be our salvation.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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