5.18.18 Fri. 7th wk of Easter (II)
Acts of Apostles 25: 13b – 21
Gospel of John 21: 15 -19
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them †Jesus said to Simon Peter,* “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”* He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he 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. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Allow †Jesus To Dress You
As we come to the close of the Easter Season, which is this weekend on Pentecost, here we are at the end of John’s Gospel. At this point, in John’s Gospel, we revisit the place of the first call. We have come full circle. Remember when Jesus first called Peter? He and his buddies had been fishing out on the Sea of Galilee, and had caught nothing – and †Jesus asked Peter to trust Him. After Peter had fished all night, catching nothing, †Jesus said to them: “Put out into the deep”. His words were more than just showing Peter where he needed to fish. It was a call for Peter to follow †Jesus, to follow †Jesus to unfamiliar places; to embrace what was not comfortable, what was not predictable.
Peter would soon see things that he never imagined as he followed †Jesus in His ministry throughout Judea – the blind would see – the deaf would hear – the dead would be raised to life. But Peter stopped short – he stopped short of following †Jesus when †Jesus was to climb Calvary. We know that Peter ran away. He left the courtyard of the High Priest’s house after declaring three times: “I do not know the man”!
So now here we are – back in Galilee. †Jesus again directs His apostles where to fish; and they recall the first time this happened. And after this miracle, they recognized that it is †Jesus standing on the seashore. As they gather around †Jesus on the shore of the sea, surrounded by the boats and the fishing nets, †Jesus asks Peter this question: “Simon, son of John, Do you love me more than these”? (Jn.21:15) †Jesus did not mean – ‘Simon, do you love me more than James and John, Andrew and the others’? That’s not what He was asking. Rather: “Do you love me more than the boat, the nets, and the fishing? Do you love me more than the life that you are comfortable with”? And †Jesus asks Peter this question three times and then He tells Peter three times: “Feed my sheep”. Now Peter finally knows that his three-time denial of †Jesus has been forgiven. †Jesus again, called Peter to a deeper spiritual journey. “When you were young, you did as you wanted…” (Jn.21:18) Peter – before you were committed to me, you lived by your will. “When you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go”. (ibid) Simon, when you finally get serious about loving me – you must do my will – surrendering to me – letting me lead you.
†Jesus is asking us that same question. “Do you love me more than what is comfortable and secure for you? Do you choose me over the ways of the world; over your old ways”?
The spiritually immature go where they want to go, they do what they want to do, they deny †Jesus even impacts their life; and they respond: “I don’t know that man”. That’s the spiritually immature. We see this attitude among those who are immersed in the secular culture: “I don’t know that man”.
When we are spiritually mature, God’s will is our will. We ‘put on’ the Lord †Jesus – we are dressed by the Holy Spirit, we go where †Jesus wants us to go – in love – and mercy – and compassion – in faith – hope and charity. We share in the work of the Shepherd: “Feed my sheep”.
Many continue to deny †Jesus, by their selfishness and their willfulness, but today, †Jesus is offering us the same call, He is asking each one of you: “Put out into the deep” – to trust Him in all things. Peter finally learned the way – surrendering to God’s will, even to the point of martyrdom. And this is what distinguishes the spiritually mature. They love God more than the things of the world, more than the things around them; even more than their own lives.
Like Peter, I was very late in coming to this decision in my own life. I had been a priest for several years before I finally allowed the Lord ‘to dress me and take me where I did not want to go’. I finally began to surrender my life in my priesthood, but it took many years as a priest before I was able to get to the point of surrender to Jesus. And †Jesus has taken me places I could never imagine.
As St. Paul writes in his first Letter to the Corinthians: “What eye has not seen, what ear has not heard, and it has not entered the human heart what God has prepared for those who love Him”. (1 Cor. 2:9) It is not always easy and you cannot avoid Calvary – but it is not done alone. It is done with others of like-mind, other faithful disciples of †Jesus. We do this together as a community – and the joy and peace – is beyond words.
Allow †Jesus to dress you – let the Word of God be the armor that you wear. “Put on the Lord †Jesus – put out into the deep”. It is the sign that you love †Jesus. The test of your love is always – ‘action’ – (because words are cheap).
†Jesus is saying to each one of you: “Come follow me – share my life – feed my sheep”.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.