BULLETIN: May 1, 2022

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Third Sunday of Easter

The Easter season provides us an opportunity to reflect upon who we are as Church, in light of the first experiences of Jesus’ followers. From today’s Gospel, we realize that all we do is founded on our friendship with and trust in Jesus, as witnessed in Jesus’ dialogue with Peter. From Revelation, in the image of Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb, we can anticipate suffering for the sake of love for God and for others. From the apostles’ bold speech in Acts, we remember that when we stay true to the Gospel, even at great cost, we must always embody God’s forgiveness toward those who resist God’s invitation. The early Church struggled to understand how to live the way of Jesus, and we can expect no less struggle for ourselves. And like them, we may also know the joy of growing friendship with God along the way.

OBEYING GOD

In the first chapters of Acts, the apostles venture out energetically, soon after Pentecost, to proclaim the risen Jesus. Today’s reading shows the Sanhedrin, the formal religious body that had condemned Jesus shortly before, now threatening the apostles. The Sanhedrin likely feared that Jesus’ followers would, in vengeance for the Crucifixion, stir up a riot or even a violent revolt. The apostles, consistent with Jesus’ own dealings with the authorities, proclaim Jesus’ message of God’s forgiveness of everyone, and refuse to incite violence.

It is a great challenge, as Peter said, to “obey God rather than man.” Throughout history, when groups of God’s people, inspired by God’s dream for a just and free world, have spoken out non-violently against injustice and oppression, they have sought to obey God’s summons. We the Church, while always mindful of the dangers of self-deception, are similarly called to discern and obey God in our own time and place.


REPEATED QUESTIONS

In today’s Gospel, John sets the scene for Jesus’ encounter with Peter, sitting by a “charcoal fire.” There is just one other mention of a charcoal fire in John’s Gospel: when Peter warms himself while awaiting Jesus’ trial, and Peter goes on to deny knowing Jesus, three times. The evangelist directly links Jesus’ three questions of Peter, “do you love me?”, to Peter’s three denials. Through his repeated questioning, Jesus helps Peter to face his actions fully, and to accept forgiveness fully as well.

When God invites us into prayer, we may be invited to enter into deep conversation with God about our lives. God can pose the same questions to us, again and again over time, to face what we might prefer to avoid: Can you forgive someone who has hurt you? Can you be more generous? Can you let go of obstacles to becoming more loving? And even: Do you love me? Jesus’ encounter with Peter suggests that we can face such questions with deep trust in God.


Today’s Readings: Acts 5:27–32, 40b–41; Ps 30:2, 4, 5–6, 11–12a, 13b; Rev 5:11–14; Jn 21:1–19 [1–14]


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