Sunday Sermon for May 5, 2019, the Third Sunday of Easter, Year C

Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19

In today’s readings St. Peter has a central place and teaches us much.  At the beginning of the Gospel, Peter is with the disciples at the Sea of Galilee says he is going fishing.  Perhaps he just liked fishing, perhaps he needed to pay some bills, or perhaps he was not yet sure of what the future held after the death and resurrection of our Lord.  One thing is for certain, Peter had no doubts about the resurrection of our Lord.  St John tells us Jesus already revealed Himself twice to His Apostles after His resurrection from the dead.

The next thing we hear about St. Peter is that the Beloved Disciple tells him the Man calling to them from shore and advising them to cast the net over the starboard side is the Lord.  Peter, undoubtedly remembering a similar miraculous catch earlier in the Lord’s public ministry, immediately abandoned the net and the others in the boat and jumped into the water to be with Jesus.  There is no hint of Jesus challenging the Apostles about their going fishing, so they were not fishing because they were lacking in faith or running from the ministry to which the Lord was calling them.  Indeed, the Lord used this opportunity to ask the disciples to bring some of the fish they had caught and add them to the fish the Lord already had roasting over a charcoal fire on shore.

At this point we have to ask ourselves, if we are going about our daily duties and something happened that was clearly of God, how would we react?  I do not assume Jesus would be standing there as He was in the Gospel, so we do not have to think about jumping into the sea to be with Him.  But are we willing to take the time to pray, to thank Him, to seek His will in this situation, whatever it may be?  Peter was willing to abandon everything to be with the Lord.  Do we make time for prayer each day?  Are we willing to go before the Blessed Sacrament to literally be with Jesus?

After the Apostles had eaten, we are made privy to a conversation between Jesus and St. Peter.  Jesus asks Peter about Peter’s love for Jesus.  Having denied the Lord three times, it seems reasonable for Jesus to ask three times about Peter’s love.  But two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus as Jesus loves him, that is, with agape love.  Twice Peter answers that he loves Jesus as a friend with philia love.  The third time Jesus comes down to Peter’s level and Peter responds the same way as before, with philia love.  Jesus then speaks to Peter about the death by which he will love our Lord the way the Lord loves him and glorify God.

How about us?  How much do we love Jesus?  Is He a mere acquaintance to us?  Is He a friend to us?  Is He the One we love with our whole heart and soul and strength?  Do we love Jesus with a selfless love or do we love Jesus because of what we think we can get from Him? 

We see Peter again in the first reading standing before the Sanhedrin because of the preaching of the Apostles.  Peter tells the members of the Sanhedrin that the Apostles would obey God rather than men.  It is amazing to see the swiftness of the transformation that took place in St. Peter.  He went from being a good friend of Jesus, to being a witness to the resurrection of Jesus, to rejoicing that he and the Apostles had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Are we willing to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus?  Are we willing to stand up for our Faith when someone is bad mouthing the Church?  Are we willing to pray in public places before we eat?  Are we willing to wear ashes on our heads in public on Ash Wednesday?  Are we willing to be different from everyone else because of our love for Jesus? 

We are told in the second reading today that everyone in Heaven cried out regarding the worthiness of the Lamb, but then there is an astounding passage that says: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: ‘To the One Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”’  Every creature in the universe, including those in Hell, will glorify God.  We have an opportunity to glorify God now: love Jesus as He loves you and fall down in worship.

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.

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