Third Sunday of Easter - Fr. Pete Iorio
May 1, 2022 - 11:00 AM
Volunteer. What is this? A $20 bill. If I do this (crumple the dollar bill up), can you still buy something with it? Yes. “Well,” “What if I do this?” Drop it on the floor and grind it with a shoe.) He picked it up, crumpled and dirty. “Now can we still buy something with it?” Yes. It is still worth $20. Give it to volunteer. Thank you.
The point is this: Many times in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong! We are special – let us never forget it! We have a great example of this in the Gospel.
This Gospel passage is full of symbolism. Jesus is cooking fish on a charcoal fire. Where else in John’s Gospel is a charcoal fire? In the courtyard of the high priest where Peter denied Jesus three times. We hear this every Good Friday. So this is the last time when Jesus was alive when he would have seen and heard Peter. At the last supper, Peter declared that he was willing to die for Jesus because he loved him more than the others. He failed miserably. So the question Jesus asks is, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Instead of denying Jesus, Peter declares his love for Jesus who in turn commissions him: Feed my lambs. In this beautiful symbolic passage, Jesus not only undoes Peter’s threefold denial, he indicates his primacy over the other disciples. The second commission is Tend my sheep. The better translation is “Shepherd my sheep.”
What exactly does that mean? Does Peter have great power and authority? Not exactly in terms of how humans view power and authority. Christlike leadership looks a lot different. It looks like martyrdom… laying down his life out of love for the flock. So, there is symbolic language once again: 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. History tells us that Peter was indeed crucified like Jesus was. His death glorified God because he stayed faithful to Christ for the rest of his life after this encounter.
So one lesson of today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus chose the repentant Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times. We might call it the spiritual resurrection of Peter after his humiliating spiritual death by denying Jesus. Christ always sees our true value and never leaves us in misery. The same is true for you and me.