“Peter, do you love me? ...Feed my sheep”
We continue this Sunday to hear eye-witness accounts of encounters with the risen Jesus Christ and the effect he had on those who encountered him.
In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41)
, the apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin for fearlessly teaching in the name of Jesus after being instructed not to. They were flogged for their offense, yet they went away rejoicing that they were found worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.
When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
In our second reading (Revelation 5:11-14)
, we hear another of John’s apocalyptic visions. This one declaring the kingship and authority of the “Lamb that was slain” (Jesus). “All of creation fall down and worship him.”
This reading is full of symbols such as “the elders” (the entire people of God) and “the four living creatures” (the four corners of the earth.)
I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing." 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." The four living creatures answered, "Amen, " and the elders fell down and worshiped.
In our Gospel reading (John 21:1-19)
, Jesus appeared a third time to his disciples; this time at the Sea of Tiberias. There are three keynotes in this reading. First, after fishing all night with nothing, Jesus overfilled their nets - a symbol of the great numbers who would become Christians.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord."
Second, Jesus ate breakfast with them, with Eucharistic overtones in the passing of the bread.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.
Thirdly, Jesus reversed Peter’s three denials on the night of his trial and installed him as the shepherd of his Church (tend my sheep).
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
We can find no better example of how to evangelize than the apostles. They boldly and fearlessly proclaimed the risen Christ to the world, regardless of the consequences. “We must obey God rather than men”, they said. Look what these twelve men and others accomplished as a result—not on their own but with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is no less willing and active today, if we but call upon him and trust in him.
to read, reflect, pray on the full scripture readings for this Sunday