Acts 5:27 – 32, 40b – 41
Revelation 5: 11 – 14
John 21: 1 – 19
Last Sunday, we heard that on the very evening of the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the
apostles—except Thomas—and breathed upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that they might
be able to forgive the sins of fellow human beings. Just days earlier Jesus had died on the Cross
for the forgiveness of sins. Yet on the evening of the Resurrection, by giving to the apostles what
St. John in the Book of Revelation calls “the keys of death and the nether world”, Jesus gave the
apostles the power to free men and women from the prison of sin.
Today we hear how Christ extended the gift of reconciliation to one of the apostles in a particular
way. Like all the gifts that God gives, this gift of reconciliation was given to Saint Peter so that
he would be a better disciple of Christ Jesus in his own particular manner. After commanding St.
Peter in regard to the miraculous catch of fish—itself a symbol of the apostles’ ministry to
be “fishers of men”—Our Risen Lord asks Peter a very simple question. This questions aims at
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” The fact that Jesus addresses this question to “Simon,
son of John” instead of to “Peter” is significant. St. John the Evangelist, before the answer to
Jesus’ question is given, refers to this man as “Simon Peter”; after the answer is given, the
evangelist refers to him simply as “Peter”. We know that the name Peter means “rock”, and that
it is upon this rock that Jesus built His Church. Nonetheless, until Peter repented publicly three
times, in order to make up for his three-fold public denial of Jesus, Peter could not serve as Jesus
Only by assuring Jesus that he loved Him could he accept the name “Peter”. But notice also that
in Jesus accepting Peter’s repentance, He also gives Peter a new command. Jesus commands him
not only to be faithful to proclaiming His Name, as he had failed to do after the Last Supper.
Jesus’ new command for Peter was something greater: “Feed my sheep.” Peter was not only to
be “rock-solid”, so to speak, in preaching the Gospel. Peter was to be the Rock at the very heart
of the Church, upon which the entire Church would rest. Just as the Israelites in the desert struck
the Rock and found a source of living water, so the Church finds in the Rock of Peter the
assurance that the words the Church teaches are the words of Jesus Himself.
This reconciliation between Jesus and Peter had to take place before Jesus could ascend to
Heaven. Without the Rock of Peter to rely upon, the Church could not begin its mission at
Why is this office of Peter—the office of the pope—so important? Many Christians find the
office of Peter a stumbling block to Christian unity, but in fact it is an assurance of the Church’s
unity, because at the heart of this office is love. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father
and the Son. Only this love can unite the Church here on earth. This love is the key to living out
the Gospel, and is in fact the key to the kingdom of Heaven.
The high priest questioned the apostles, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name, yet
here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” The high priest does not comprehend why
these men continue to break the law and teach in “Jesus’ name”, even though they have been
ordered not to. After arresting the apostles and admonishing them again not to pursue their
teaching, he releases them once more. Obviously, he is a slow learner if he thinks they will
refrain from offering their public witness.
For twenty centuries, the witness has been given, and in folks like us the story continues to be
told. We should be proud of what we are doing today, right at the present moment.
Today’s Gospel passage concerning Jesus showing himself to his disciples by the sea of Tiberias
gives us a graphic account of an encounter between Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection.
It is as if he doesn’t miss a chance to meet them, so that they will have no doubt whatever that he
is, indeed, risen from the dead.
What remains fresh in our memory is that after being elected as our pontiff, Pope Francis is every
way returns to the old familiar scenes showing the world that he is still a local man who cared for
the sick and the needy. In a way, this helps to make him appear more real to us. Where did he
learn this lesson? Gospel tells us that even after his resurrection, Jesus is back among the old
familiar scenes. He is on the seashore. He cooks for a meal for his friends; he filled their boats
with fish, cared for them and filled them with hope.
Having Jesus cook breakfast for the disciples makes for a lovely human touch. We often use the
phrase “some things never change,” and St Paul tells us that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today,
and always.” Even after his resurrection, he retains that lovely human touch, that down to earth
relationship with those whom he had already called his friends.
For us, Peter is probably one of the most appealing of the apostles. He certainly comes across as
being the most human, and, in the best sense of the word, the most ordinary. Just think of the
following two points about Peter. When Jesus first saw him, we are told that “Jesus looked at
Peter,” and when he told him that he would be the rock on which he would build his church.
Later, when Peter denied Jesus, and ran away, we are told, once again, that “Jesus turned and
looked at Petr.” The thing that struck Peter as that the look had not changed. It was still a look
of genuine love, and of friendly invitation. No wonder Peter went outside and wept his heart out.
Many of us fall into the subtle trap of thinking the only place to find God is at church. Expect
God everywhere. Here are five places where God awaits you:
At our work: The relationships you have, the results you achieve, the quality and mindfulness
with which you do your work can all be the stuff of holiness. Plus, the money you earn to
support your family and the esteem you hold as a contributor to the world can either help serve
the kingdom or be an impediment to it. Each day we “suit up and show up” at work we get
opportunities to learn more about ourselves and to contribute our gifts to the good of the world.
In our family and relationships: It’s easy to love other people when everything’s going well. But
when there are hurt feelings, mistrust, or clashing wills, relationships don’t feel very much as
though they are of God. Yet it is at just those times, that we can witness the movement of God in
our lives, leading us to healing, trust and cooperation. These can be opportunities to let go of
character defects and to exercise virtue.
In our failings: We all like to be heroes. But it’s a given that each of us will fail in our lives.
Nevertheless, when we hit our limits or even when we sin, we can turn to God for acceptance,
mercy and the strength to make amends and sin no more. In that turning to God and in our
opening ourselves up to God’s grace and forgiveness, we become better people.
In our loneliness: Our hearts are restless until thy rest in you, O God. Rather than trying to fill
the emptiness with mindless entertainment or indulging our cravings, sit still and find God in the
emptiness. It takes patient and courage and humility, but you will hear the “still small voice” of
God even in the midst of your emptiness responding to your loneliness and restlessness with the
only love that fully satisfies.
In our pleasure: Many people seem to think that if something’s fun, it must be at least partially
wrong. Yet God gives us the world to live in and enjoy. In the words of St Irenaeus, “The glory
of God is a human being fully alive.” Therefore, pleasure is a place to meet God, whether it be
the pleasure of nature, of playing, of loving one another, of beauty, or of the occasional
overwhelming conviction that we are loved by God.
It is comforting and exciting to think that the ordinary is where we meet and serve Jesus. We
won’t know that we’ve just served Jesus. We’ll just se the stranger who needed to be welcomed.
We won’t know that we’ve just served Jesus. We’ll just see the child who needed a hug and a
story read to her. We won’t know that we’ve just served Jesus. We’ll just see the neighbor who
needed help mowing the grass on his lawn. We won’t know that we’ve just served Jesus. We’ll
just see the friend in the hospital who needed a visit. And then Jesus will say, “You did it to me.”
“It was nothing,” we might mutter. “Not true,” Jesus says. “It is a sign of the in-breaking of the
kingdom.” The Quakers have a statement: “A great amount of light is produced by a thousand