Sunday Sermon for April 10, 2016, the Third Sunday of Easter, Year C
Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19
Human nature is a very fickle thing. Even those who do not think themselves to be politically correct will often find themselves changing their tune depending upon the circumstances or the people present. We find that in the first reading today when the High Priest says to the Apostles you “want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Recall from the readings during Holy Week that they were the very ones saying “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” The story changes for the convenience of the speaker.
While we are probably all guilty of this sort of behavior at times, we have to be especially careful to make sure that we do not allow it to affect the way in which we speak of our Lord and our Faith. These days, when Jesus is not politically correct, the temptation to deny Him in one way or another looms large. We all want to be part of the group we hear about in the second reading who, in Heaven, proclaim the Lamb who was slain, to be worthy “to receive all power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”
It would be easy to give Him glory in Heaven, after all, everyone else is doing it. It might seem politically correct in Heaven to give glory to God. However, in Heaven there are no politics, only truth. It is interesting that when the end comes, everyone, even if they are not in Heaven, is going to be giving glory to Jesus. This is what we see in the second reading where we are told that everything in the universe will proclaim blessing, honor, glory and might to the One Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.
So, even those who did not find it to be expedient in this life to proclaim the Lord, even those who rejected Him, will give Him glory forever. So, in eternity only the truth will be exclaimed. In the meantime, however, we need to examine our own actions to make sure that we are not denying our Lord.
Just ask yourself what you would do if you were in the position of the Apostles. First of all, would you even be willing to bring the message of Jesus to others? Secondly, would you have the propensity to waffle when being threatened? The Apostles’ faith was such that they did not care if someone, even the most powerful people, did not like their message. Eventually, every one of them, with the sole exception being St. John, was martyred for their faith. How serious are you about your faith?
Perhaps today our Lord would ask us the same questions he posed to St. Peter in the Gospel: do you love me? Notice that it is not just a matter of “do you believe in me?” We live in a time where there are so many people who have left the Faith yet still try to justify themselves by saying that they believe in God or that they believe in Jesus. While that is a good start, it is not the question our Lord addresses to St. Peter.
Remember that Peter was the first of the Apostles to profess his faith that Jesus is the Son of God. Recall, too, that the demons also proclaimed Him to be the Son of God. I am not trying to equate Peter’s act of faith with the statements of the demons, but I am simply trying to point out that belief in the Person of Jesus is not sufficient to get to heaven. While it is absolutely indispensable, it is still necessary to takes things to a deeper level. Because Jesus is truth and love, we have to put the truth into practice and we have to love Him.
St. Augustine pointed out that Peter’s threefold statement of love for Jesus reversed the threefold denial of our Lord that took place in the courtyard of the High Priest. It makes me wonder how many times our Lord would have to ask me that question if I had to reverse every occasion where I have denied the Lord in one way or another throughout my life. Peter was hurt after being asked three times; how many times would you have to be asked? Moreover, what would be your answer?
It is time to get our fickle nature and our political correctness under control. We either love Jesus or we do not. While we do not have to go into the marketplaces and preach on a soapbox, we do have to go into the marketplaces and be Catholic. Jesus did not water down His answer when His Father asked Him how much he loves us. We cannot water down our witness if we love Him.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.