3rd Sunday of Easter (C) 04-22-07

Scripture Readings
First Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41
Second Revelation 5:11-1...
3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to...
•   St. Bede: “Peter went to Jesus with the ardor with which he did everything.”
•   St. Gregory the Great: “The sea signi...
Peter’s Yes is the greatest expression of Christ’s redeeming work for man. It is the explosion
    of the positivity of Be...
Reign of Terror, the story revolves around Blanche de la Force. Blanche is a
    pathologically phobic young woman who dec...
and I will die a Christian!” Exasperated, the judge complained, “What people these are!
    There’s no dealing with them.”...
Catholic faith and journeyed to the continent to study for the priesthood. Following his
      ordination in 1581, he retu...
Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving
       the sheep what is truly good...
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3rd Sunday of Easter :: op-stjoseph.org

  1. 1. 3rd Sunday of Easter (C) 04-22-07 Scripture Readings First Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41 Second Revelation 5:11-14 Gospel John 21:1-19 Prepared by: Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. 1. Subject Matter • Peter’s Yes of love of Christ • The true meaning of obedience • The Name of Jesus: the apostles “spoke in the name of Jesus” were “found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” 2. Exegetical Notes • “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something” – reminiscent of Luke 5:1-11; the fruit of their obedience is “one hundred fifty-three large fish.” • Jn 21:2: “The statement of the ‘togetherness’ at the beginning of the sentence, and the list of seven disciples, a symbolic representation of disciples as such, continue the theme of the creation of a new community” (Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B.). • “the charcoal fire” – the fire on the beach may be meant to be contrasted to Jn 18:3, 18 where it states that those who had gone out to arrest Jesus did so with lanterns and torches by a charcoal fire. • “Many have been drawn into the net, but the net is not damaged. The seamless garment that could not be torn apart may be in the mind of the author” (Moloney).
  2. 2. 3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, quot;the obedience of faith.quot; 144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to quot;hear or listen toquot;) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. 1429 St. Peter's conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus' look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord's resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord's call to a whole Church: quot;Repent!quot; 1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. 1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate's cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas' betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter's denial and the disciples' flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly. 1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or quot;justicequot;) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. 2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the quot;obedience of faithquot; as our first obligation. He shows that quot;ignorance of Godquot; is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations. Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him. 2256 Citizens are obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order. quot;We must obey God rather than menquot; (Acts 5:29). 4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities • St. Augustine: “The Lord, questioning Peter, who from fear had thrice denied him, extracted from him a threefold declaration of love…. Peter was dead as a result of denying his Master…. Christ the Lord raised up Peter through Peter’s love for him.” • St. John Chrysostom: “John mentions the place [the Sea of Tiberias] to show that our Lord had taken away a good deal of their fear, and that they no longer kept within doors.”
  3. 3. • St. Bede: “Peter went to Jesus with the ardor with which he did everything.” • St. Gregory the Great: “The sea signifies the world, which is tossed about with various causes of tumults, and the waves of this corruptible life; the shore by its solidity figures the rest eternal. The disciples then, inasmuch as they were still upon the waves of this mortal life, were laboring on the sea; but the Redeemer having by his resurrection thrown off the corruption of the flesh, stood upon the shore.” • St. Bede: “The fish broiled is Christ who suffered. He deigned to be hid in the waters of human nature, and to be taken in the net of our night; and having become a fish by the taking of humanity, became bread to refresh us by his divinity.” • St. Augustine: “Mystically, the fried [sic] fish is Christ who suffered. And he is the bread that came down from heaven. To him the Church is united to his body for participation of eternal bliss.” • St. Augustine: “While our Lord was being condemned to death, Peter feared, and denied Jesus. But by his resurrection Christ implanted love in Peter’s heart and drove away fear. Peter denied, because he feared to die: but when our Lord was risen from the dead, and by his death destroyed death, what should he fear?” • St. John Chrysostom: “That which most of all attracts the divine love is care and love for our neighbor. Our Lord remembers no more Peter’s sin in denying him, or brings that as a charge against him, but commits to him at once the superintendence over his brethren. ‘If you love Me, have rule over your brethren, show forth that love which you have evidenced throughout, and that life which you said you would lay down for Me, lay down for the sheep.’” • St. John Chrysostom: “Three confessions are made to answer to the three denials; that the tongue might show as much love as it had fear, and life gained draw out the voice as much as death threatened.” • St. Gregory the Great: “In a sacrifice we slay another’s body, whereas by obedience we slay our own will.” • St. Thomas Aquinas: “Christ says, ‘Do you love me more than these’ because the more Peter loves the better he is.” • Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “The motivation for saying ‘yes’ to something that comes into our life defeating all preconceptions is beauty…. Morality is born as friendship with God as Mystery and therefore with Jesus. Man’s relationship with God as mystery and therefore with Jesus starts and is accomplished in St. Peter’s Yes to Jesus who asked him, ‘Simon, do you love me?’ Through Peter’s Yes morality is the surprise of a presence to which we adhere in such a way that the whole of life tends to be conceived through it, in its details and in its globality, so that it may please the face of that Presence. Therefore, morality for a Christian is loving adherence….St. Peter did not take as the motive of his love for Christ the fact of having been forgiven his many defects, his many mistakes, his many betrayals. He did not list his own mistakes, but, when he found himself face to face with Christ after the resurrection, and when Christ asked him, ‘Simon, do you love me?’ he answered, ‘Yes.” It is the relationship with this word, which is the most human and the most divine, which makes us embrace everything in our daily existence…. What provoked Peter to say Yes is Christ’s charity, which changed Peter’s remorse at his betrayal into positive sorrow. The remorse of betrayal was transfixed by Christ’s charity, and the change to positive sorrow is charity as echoed in Peter; echoed in the sense that Peter accepts it, put into action by him, perhaps without even a thought.
  4. 4. Peter’s Yes is the greatest expression of Christ’s redeeming work for man. It is the explosion of the positivity of Being over the negativity of the falsehood of man’s action…. May we live this surrender to the Mystery, to Christ, to the mystery that revealed itself in that man, in our activities, and may we be filled with wonder so as to feel St. Peter’s Yes emerging from the bottom of our hearts.” • Fr. Julian Carron: “True immorality is not incoherence but impenetrability. Impenetrability is the demonic origin of all despair, because not even sin can be an alibi for Someone who comes close to our ‘I,’ whatever we have done, and asks, ‘Do you love me?’ Someone who lets himself be overwhelmed cannot but answer like Peter, ‘You know everything, Christ; You know I love you. All my human fondness is for You, Christ.’ So, everything rests on an Other: ‘You know everything,’ I don’t have anything I can stand on, my whole ‘I’ rests on Christ…. Facing his evil, Peter did not experience what was missing; the living presence of Jesus, in the superabundance of mercy, imposed itself on his remorse. This is what becomes more powerful than any evil; the grandeur of His living presence becomes more imposing than any nihilism, through the superabundance of His presence…. When I have done something very bad, so bad that I am scandalized at myself, what defines me in that moment? Christ’s embrace of me in baptism, that not even my wrong can undo, whatever wrong I have done. Nothing I can do can change Christ’s attitude towards me…. I can be as weak as I like, to the point of being scandalized by myself, but the power of Christ in baptism is greater, not even my evil can overcome it…. When I am reduced to noting, to the point that I am ashamed to look at myself, in that moment I can say, ‘What defines me” This embrace of Christ, this being taken hold of by Christ, which remains after this wrong I have done, this stupid thing I have done,; and I can start off again.” • Fr. Stefano Alberto: “Peter’s Yes, as our yes, is the renewal of trust in Jesus—this human presence that invests us, asking us to follow him not according to our image of justice in history, but according to his plan, his will. ‘Peter, do you love me?’ ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’” 5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars • The Quo vadis? legend (summarized by George Edmundson, 1913): “Peter’s friends, so runs the story, had entreated the Apostle to save his life by leaving the city. Peter at last consented, but on condition that he should go away alone. But when he wished to pass the gate of the city, he saw Christ meeting him. Falling down in adoration he says to Him 'Lord, whither goest Thou?' [Latin, quo vadis?] And Christ replied to him 'I am coming to Rome to be again crucified.' And Peter says to Him 'Lord, wilt Thou again be crucified?' And the Lord said to him 'Even so, I will again be crucified.' Peter said to Him 'Lord, I will return and will follow Thee.' And with these words the Lord ascended into Heaven . . . And Peter, afterwards coming to himself, understood that it was of his own passion that it had been spoken, because that in it the Lord would suffer. The Apostle then returned with joy to meet the death which the Lord had signified that he should die.” • The Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne – In Francis Poulenc’s operatic retelling of the historical event of the guillotining of 16 Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution
  5. 5. Reign of Terror, the story revolves around Blanche de la Force. Blanche is a pathologically phobic young woman who decides to retreat from the world and enter a Carmelite convent. When the political situation worsens, Blanche’s brother implores Blanche to leave the monastery. But she refuses; it is “fear of fear itself” that keeps her from leaving. The nuns together take a vow of martyrdom. Shortly thereafter, when the nuns are arrested and condemned to death, Blanche is not with them. It appears she has run away and deserted them. The nuns go to the guillotine. Then, at the last minute, Blanche appears, completely free from all fear, and sings Deo patri sit gloria as she mounts the scaffold, radiant. • St. Lorenzo Ruiz (+1637): Chinese father, Filipino mother, both Christians. He learned Chinese and Tagalog from them, Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. Member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. Married layman, and the father of two sons and a daughter. Journeyed with Dominican missionaries to Japan where Christians were being persecuted for their faith. The group was soon exposed as Christian, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. They were tortured in several ways for days. Lawrence and the Japanese priest broke at one point, and were ready to renounce their faith in exchange for release, but after their moment of crisis, they reclaimed their faith and defied their tormentors. The governor who persecuted him asked: “If we let you live will you renounce your faith?quot; St. Lorenzo Ruiz replied: quot;That I shall never do, because I am a Christian and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so do with me as you will please.quot; First canonized Filipino martyr. • St. Thomas Toan, Martyr (1767-1840): Thomas Toan, of Can Phan, Vietnam, an elderly lay catechist and Third Order Dominican, was arrested during the continuing persecution of Catholics under the Vietnamese emperor Minh Mang. After several months in prison, he was placed in the company of two apostates from the faith, who were ordered under pain of death to pressure him into apostatizing. Falling prey to the apostates’ stratagems, Thomas briefly faltered, expressing a readiness to desert his religion. But quickly realizing his sin, he repented, confessed his lapse to a Catholic priest, and received sacramental absolution. Re-affirming his belief in the Catholic faith before a pagan tribunal, Thomas told the magistrate, “I have sinned against God, but he has forgiven me.” The pagans thereupon vented their fury upon Thomas, lacerating his flesh with torture, and clamping him in a neck-yoke, over which they bound his hands, leaving him to die, stripped and exposed to the fierce summer heat. After twelve days, he perished from starvation. • St. Protasius Chong Kuk-Bo, Martyr (c. 1798-1839): A Catholic husband and father, Protasius Chong Kuk-bo administered a hostel in Seoul, Korea to lodge Catholics arriving in the city to receive the sacraments. In April of 1839, he was arrested by the pagan authorities. Protasius at first remained steadfast in professing his faith, even after torture. But subsequently, in a moment of weakness, he apostatized, and was set free. Tormented with remorse, he was unable to sleep or eat. Intent to reverse his lapse, he returned to court in order to profess his Catholic faith anew. The court officers, however, declared his case to be closed, and refused him admittance. But Protasius kept coming back, repeating his entreaty. Finally, he intercepted the judge in the street, and told him he was a Christian and intended to continue being one. The judge dismissed his words and turned to walk away. But Protasius followed after him, exclaiming, “I am a Christian,
  6. 6. and I will die a Christian!” Exasperated, the judge complained, “What people these are! There’s no dealing with them.” He thereupon ordered him to be arrested. After being tortured, Protasius died from his wounds on May 20, 1839. • St. Paul Ho Hyob, Martyr (c. 1795-1840): A soldier of Korea’s “Capital Defense Force” (the “Hul-lyonto-kam”), Paul Ho Hyob lived as a faithful Catholic. The continuing persecution of Christians under the country’s pagan regime led to Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in August of 1839. He at first remained steadfast in his profession of faith after undergoing the tortures of “bone-bending,” stabbing, and seventy blows with a plank, declaring he would remain a Catholic until death. But several weeks later, his resolve wavered, and for a brief time he apostatized. Quickly regretting his fall, he went directly to the judge and declared, “I have sinned, and I repent of it; my mouth pronounced the words of apostasy, but my heart was Christian, and it still is. Here I am ready to bear new tortures.” Thereafter, Paul was beaten with 130 more blows of the plank, and died from this torture in prison on January 30, 1840. • Blessed Thomas Tsuji, Priest, Religious, and Martyr (c. 1571-1627): Thomas Tsuji, of Sonogi, Japan, entered the Jesuit Order in 1589. Following his ordination to the priesthood, he became known among his fellow Japanese Catholics as an exceptional preacher. In 1614, an imperial edict expelling all Catholic priests forced Father Tsuji to leave Japan, but four years later he succeeded in re-entering his native land secretly, disguised as a merchant. While ministering to Japan’s persecuted Catholics, he often visited Catholic homes disguised as a wood seller. Father Tsuji’s morale faltered as the persecution grew more ferocious, and he sought and obtained dismissal from the Jesuit Order. But he soon regretted his decision, and was later readmitted to the Jesuits. In July of 1626, Father Tsuji was arrested after celebrating Mass for a Catholic father and son, (Blesseds) Louis and John Maki. While being questioned by a judge, Father Tsuji declared, “I am prepared to uphold with my life and to testify with my blood to the truths that I have faithfully taught.” He was put to death with Louis and John Maki, whom he blessed and enjoined to think upon Christ’s Passion before dying. • St. Michael Hy-Dinh-Ho, Martyr (c. 1808-1857): Michael Hy-Dinh-Ho, of Nhu Lam, Vietnam, a high-ranking mandarin of Vietnam’s imperial government, had spent thirty years as a fallen-away Catholic, never attending Mass or seeing a priest, when he was arrested on various charges, including that of having sent his son to Malaysia to study for the priesthood. Under torture, Michael strove to profess his faith, but faltered after prolonged torments. Nonetheless, in the end Michael overcame his weakness and embraced martyrdom. The pagan emperor Tu Duc condemned him to be beheaded for “following the erroneous religion without having any feeling of repentance or regret.” Along the way to his execution, Michael was thrice beaten with canes. Before dying, the prisoner knelt to pray, and then asked the executioner to wait. Scanning the faces in the crowd, Michael made eye contact with a priest, signaling with his eyes that he repented of his sins and had the desire to confess them if he were able. He then offered his neck to the executioner. • Blessed Thomas Alfield, Priest and Martyr (+1585): An alumnus of the Eton boys’ school and Cambridge University, Thomas Alfield, of Gloucestershire, England, converted to the
  7. 7. Catholic faith and journeyed to the continent to study for the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1581, he returned to England and ministered in the north of the country for about a year before being captured by the Elizabethan regime. Tortured for his faith, Father Alfield at first remained steadfast, but later apostatized. Yet as soon as he had gained his freedom, he repented of his fall. Journeying to Reims, France, he returned to the Catholic faith. After meeting with the renowned English Catholic apologist, Cardinal William Allen, Father Alfield returned to England to resume his priestly labors there. He undertook the dangerous mission of distributing to English Catholics over 500 copies of Cardinal Allen’s book, A True, Sincere, and Modest Defense of English Catholics, a work refuting the accusation that Catholics were traitors to their country. Father Alfield was soon arrested and condemned to death together with the layman Thomas Webley for distributing this book. 6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI • “Christian faith is properly the religion of ordinary people; the Lord communicates himself to ordinary people. So it is not a superhuman thing, but comes about in a state of obedience that places us at God’s disposition wherever he calls. It is the same obedience that does not trust to one’s own power or one’s own greatness but is founded on the greatness of the God of Jesus Christ. It is conscious, too, that this divine greatness may be found in service proper and in losing oneself, in letting oneself be guided by the truth and moved by love.” • “Faith requires conversion and that conversion is an act of obedience toward a reality which precedes me and which does not originate from me….. Only the concrete God can be something other than a new projection of one’s own self. Following in Christ’s footsteps is the only way of losing oneself which attains the desired goal…The one who became flesh has remained flesh. He is concrete…Obedience to the Church is the concreteness of our obedience.” • “The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will.” • “The word used in the Bible for Jesus’ power already provides a profound interpretation of the essence of this power: it is not just the power of one’s own physical or technical strength. It is…the power…stemming from obedience, that is, from a relationship that is responsibility for being, the responsibility of truth and the good…. Romano Guardini has very beautifully described the positive content of the fundamental act of Jesus, his crucifixion and attendant exaltation: ‘Jesus’ entire existence is the translation of power into humility…into obedience to the will of the Father. Obedience is not secondary for Jesus, but forms the core of his being.’ For his power there is therefore ‘no limit coming from the outside, but only one from the inside…the will of the Father freely accepted.’” • “The thing that counts in Christianity is obedience, humility in the face of God’s word. An infant, or an overdriven laborer, given faith, can take precedence before heroes of asceticism, because salvation does not come from man’s greatness but from God’s gracious mercy.” • “One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. ‘Feed my sheep,’ says Christ to Peter.
  8. 8. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.” 7. Other Considerations When Peter denies Jesus, he discovers something undeniable about himself: his love for Christ surpasses even the enormity of his evil. It is Christ’s question after the Resurrection that forces Peter finally to scrutinize this truest fact about his existence: despite the despicableness, the atrocity of his sin, there is something greater in Peter…something irrevocable, inexorable, indestructible. Peter loves Jesus Christ. Even his abominable evil cannot annihilate that. The question that Jesus poses probes Peter to the depths and elicits from him his truest self: He is a lover of Jesus Christ. That is who he is. “You know that I love you”: that is Peter’s identity. No degree of atrocious sin will eradicate that reality of love. What seems like an interrogation is in fact the Lord’s way of raising Peter to life in much the same way he did his other dead friend, Lazarus. By his triple-repeated query Christ commands: “Peter, come forth. Leave behind the stink of your denial, your betrayal. By your embrace of your love for me, be unbound and set free. Roll away the stone of regret. You are Rock! On this Rock I will build my Church. Feed my sheep.” The risen Christ in his great mercy gives Peter a “new birth: a birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). This miracle of mercy is meant for us. The Resurrection changes us. It makes us different in a verifiable way. The person who freely desires and enters into a relationship of love with the Risen Christ—like the Risen Christ—remains human but becomes something more. This is the grace of obedience. For obedience is “the way we overcome ourselves in our heart” (Giussani). No longer can Peter be blackmailed by the knowledge of his past sins. His obedience saves him from debilitating guilt. His obedience enables him to live by the greater truth that he professes to the Risen Jesus: “You know that I love you.” His obedience makes him bold, and fearless, and certain, and different in a verifiable way. Obedience is to live everything for the reasons of an Other. Peter’s own profession of love reveals to him the reason for living the reasons of Jesus— Peter has been loved by a love that exceeds his cowardice, his incapacity, his scandalous infidelity, his reprehensible shame. That love has given him an ability to adhere to Christ like never before. And that adherence is obedience. He—and we—sets out to feed Christ’s sheep “consecrated by the Spirit to a life of obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). Recommended Resources CAMERON, PETER JOHN, To Praise, To Bless, To Preach: Spiritual Reflections on the Sunday Gospels—Cycle C Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2000 TOAL, M.F. Editor, The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers Swedesboro: Preservation Press, 1996 VON BALTHASAR, HANS URS, Light of the Word San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993