A HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER -CYCLE “C” – APRIL 10TH, 2016 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
We know of course, that Divine Mercy Sunday was last Sunday. But it is on this Third Sunday of our Easter season that we get one of the beautiful, most tender, examples of God’s forgiveness, from the Gospels, the forgiveness, or the Reconciliation of Peter.
Up to this point in the Resurrection appearances, it has been really nice. There’s lots of peace. Every time Jesus appears He offers His Peace! There’s lots of joy that Jesus is back from the dead. There’s the Emmaus story, and the recognizing Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread. Last week, we had the story of St. Thomas, and Thomas’s coming to Faith by touching the wounds of Christ. We know that the Risen Christ, walked through locked doors, He ate grilled fish for breakfast, and that now He gets ready to send His Church out into the world to build His Kingdom. This is all great stuff!
The problem is, that there is this unfinished business from early on Good Friday morning. And the unfinished business has to do with the man that Jesus has chosen to be in charge of His Church and It’s mission in the world, St. Peter. All throughout the Gospels, St. Peter is so larger than life. You get the impression that he was a big man, that he was a natural leader. He was not afraid to answer big questions. He was always stepping up, always getting involved, always going boldly forward without concern or fear. It was St. Peter who first declared Jesus the Messiah. It was St. Peter who got out of that boat and walked on the water, at least for a little while. It was St. Peter who wanted to build the three tents at the Transfiguration, and stay there forever. St. Peter was always smart, and brave, and in charge. And it was St. Peter who said at the Last Supper, that he would never deny Jesus and that he would fight for him to the end! St. Peter did put up the only fight of that night. He had cut off the high priest’s slave’s ear. But in the end, St. Peter didn’t stick with Jesus for very long.
The problem is, of course, that St. Peter had denied Jesus three times, just as was predicted, before the cock crowed on that first Good Friday morning. Remember that? Jesus is aware of the tension. Most likely, not because He is angry at St. Peter, but St. Peter is angry at himself. St. Peter feels guilty. Perhaps, every time that Jesus appears, St. Peter can’t feel the peace and joy, because he’s too busy feeling the guilt and shame of what he had done. Jesus’ forgiveness of St. Peter, in the Gospel today, is all because St. Peter is a mess. He is ashamed. He doesn’t want to bring it up, but he also knows that he can’t let it go. And so it is Jesus Himself Who goes to St. Peter with the simplest reconciliation. Three times, Jesus asks St. Peter, “Do you love me?” And each time, St. Peter says, “YES Lord! You know that I love you!” And all three times Jesus gives him something to do, some way of showing his love: Feed my lambs, Tend my sheep, and Feed my sheep.
This was much more than just the first penance. Jesus is giving to St. Peter the key to getting rid of his guilt and shame. St. Peter is to get busy taking care of Jesus’ Church. It is a mission that St. Peter will take seriously for the rest of his life, even dying for the Faith himself, on a hill just outside of Rome!
We know how St. Peter must have felt. You see, we too have given up on others in our lives. We all know of examples of parents, spouses, and other who have given up on their loved ones. Maybe there has been a time in our lives when we have given up on God, or denied Him, or betrayed Him. The message here today is clear! God never, ever, gives up on us. Jesus hadn’t given up on St. Peter. He doesn’t remove him from being the first Pope. He doesn’t make Peter feel worse! Instead, Jesus forgives Peter with a forgiveness that allows each one of us to forgive ourselves. He sets Peter free! There is a wonderful freedom that comes from forgiveness!
And this is why all of us need God’s forgiveness even today, to be able to forgive others and to be able to forgive ourselves. With God’s love and power, all forgiveness is possible. We can be reconciled to God and to one another! The possibilities are now endless! Just look at what God with this big, goofy fisherman! And then try and imagine what God wants to with each one of us! He’s not giving up on any of us!
+ God bless us as we strive to imitate His Love and Mercy, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!