3rd Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2022
Today is the Third Sunday of Easter. In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles we hear of the apostles being brought in before the Sanhedrin. The high priest admonishes the apostles, reminding them of the orders they had received. Peter and the apostles, however, reply, “We must obey God rather than men.” Remember, these are the same men who denied Christ in the courtyard of the high priest that Holy Thursday. These are the same apostles that scattered in the Garden of Gethsemane and hid in the upper room after Christ’s crucifixion. Yet, filled with the Holy Spirit, they are emboldened. Once again, the Sanhedrin command the apostles to “stop speaking in the name of Jesus.” Upon their dismissal from the Sanhedrin, they leave filled with joy. How can they be filled with such joy? They may have denied and abandoned Christ during His Passion, but they have been deemed worthy by the same Christ to suffer at the hands of the Jewish elite. Redemption has been granted to them and, in Christ’s mercy, they have been commanded by the Son of Man himself to proclaim His resurrection.
In the Gospel, we see an order or commandment given by Jesus, the true High Priest. This commandment, however, is from the sacred heart of Christ, not the hardened hearts of the Sanhedrin. It is an order from a heart full of mercy and love, not a heart filled with rage and contempt. Peter is not admonished, but rather lifted up. This High Priest is not seeking to suppress the message, his desire is to proclaim the Good News. Christ tenderly asks Peter to: “Feed my lambs”; “Tend my sheep”; “Feed my sheep”
Close your eyes and imagine the scene of today’s Gospel. It is shortly after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus has appeared twice to his apostles, yet they are back in Galilee. They have returned home; returned to their former way of life. They are fishing.
How can we blame them? What a few weeks it has been. The had journeyed up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover with their Lord and Master. On that Palm Sunday, their rabbi, Jesus, entered the gate of the city riding on a colt. They were greeted by a large crowd, waving and laying down palms in front of them. Cries of “Hosanna” filled the air. At the temple early that week large crowds had gathered to hear Jesus speak. They had witnessed Jesus cleverly avoid the traps being laid by the chief priests and elders. Thursday night began with a sacred meal of bread and wine and the washing of their feet by Jesus himself. However, Thursday night led to his arrest and by Friday afternoon he had been scourged, crucified, had died and was laid in the tomb. There had been a betrayal, a denial, a scattering, and a hiding. Yet Jesus had risen from the tomb and was alive in their midst.
Once again, we see Jesus’ willingness to meet us where we are at. The apostles were in Galilee and so he went to find them.
Once again, we see Jesus feeding and providing for us. The apostles had been fishing all night and had not caught anything. The commandment to lower your nets came from Jesus and a large number of fish were caught. However, did you notice that Jesus had fish cooking on a charcoal fire, before the apostles had even arrived on the shore with their catch?
Once again Jesus offers mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. In the First Reading, the apostles, the very same apostles who had scattered and hidden from the Sanhedrin on Holy Thursday, are led in before them on this day. They had responded to Christ’s gifts of mercy, forgiveness and a chance for redemption and they are emboldened before the high priest and are courageously proclaiming the name of Jesus. In the Gospel, Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, is asked three times, “Do you love me?” We see three denials, redeemed with three questions of “Do you love me?” and three opportunities for redemption in “feeding”, “tending”, and “feeding”.
Theme in our Life Today
We are sinners. I, for one, have Judas within me. When I sin, I betray my Lord and master, like Judas did. I have Peter within me when I hesitate to proclaim my faith when I know it will be met with ridicule or when I fail to speak Christ’s Truth in a secular world which seems apathetic or opposed to the Truth. In doing so I, like Peter, deny Him.
However, I am comforted by the words expressed in today’s readings. I have come to accept that Jesus is merciful and forgiving and offers me, and all of us, a chance for redemption. Like the apostles, I rejoice in the opportunity to respond to the question, “Do you love me”. I embrace the opportunity to “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep.”….. Do you?
To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy, consider the following:
During Holy Week, someone shared with me the words to the song “The Commission” by Cain. I have recorded the words to the song as an audio file to this reflection.
I would encourage you to listen to it. How is this song speaking to you?