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LOVE AS THE CONDITION OF AUTHORITY


Each reading today calls us to live out our faith in the risen Lord in a particular way. The first reading calls us to be courageous witnesses to Christ the Lord. Peter declares that the Sanhedrin’s warning to stop preaching about Jesus must yield to a higher call to witness in the Spirit whom the living God has given to them. The second reading affirms that the proper response to Easter is to give glory and praise to the Lord who sits on the throne. Saint Augustine told us that we are an Easter people and alleluia is our daily song.

 Today’s Gospel reading begins as a night scene of failure with no fish caught. Then the sun rises and as they approach the shore with disappointment, someone calls and addresses them as “Children.” Then the stranger tells them to let down their nets and here emptiness is filled with a great catch. Then, with the sun rising and the dawn of faith breaking, the disciples whom Jesus loves, sees and proclaims with deference to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Hearing John’s proclamation, Peter plunges into the water and makes his way to Jesus. Again, we are all reminded that the way to the risen Lord is through the waters, through the baptism into which we are all plunged.

 When they come to the shore, the disciples are invited to have breakfast at a charcoal fire on which bread and fish are cooking. Jesus tells them to bring some of the fish that they have just caught and again it is Peter in his leadership role, who rushes to haul in the net. The word used for “haul” is the same word that John used to describe how the Father will “draw” people to Jesus (John 6:44). And how Jesus will “draw” others to himself when he is exalted on the cross (John 12:32). Such a “hauling” or “drawing” is the pastoral effort which Peter is to make as leader of the universal Church.

 Peter, sobered by his denial of Jesus three times, does not now declare that he is capable of being more faithful than the others. As he denied Jesus three times, three times he is called upon to declare his true love.  More responsibility demands more love, so before what is to be a second spring of Peter’s discipleship, Jesus takes him back into the winter of his failure.  When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, Peter humbly offers his love to Jesus. But he knows now that he can no longer be self-confident. He now realizes that he does not know himself fully, and only Jesus can know him and strengthen him. So now, three-times repeated as a pastoral dialogue of love, the broken covenant between Jesus and Peter is renewed. Thus, he is commissioned to assume the role of shepherd in the place of Jesus. He is transformed into a truly good shepherd who can show compassion and love to those who have failed. This dialogue of love and forgiveness must always be held in the memory of the Church especially when the sheep and lambs have strayed. Truly, as shepherd, Peter will suffer a fate very similar to that which Jesus suffered.

 Just as Peter was transformed into a servant leader, each of us, plunged as we are in the waters of baptism, and drawn into our own covenant-life with Jesus, must consider how we, like Peter, are being asked to “haul” or “draw” others into that same ultimate experience of eternal life through faith in Jesus. What is our call? Is it to marriage, to the single life, to religious life, to the life of a priest? One thing is certain – we are being called. It is up to us to discern the nature of that call that will lead to the fulness of life.

 Fr. Susai Jesu, OMI

 



WHAT WE MUST LEAVE BEHIND

In the second reading for this Sunday, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul shares that he has given up everything because he knows the things he valued before encountering Christ don’t really matter. In fact, further to that they are rubbish. While material things are part of what we need to leave behind, we are also called to rid ourselves of our attitudes. This is the real challenge, and this is where we see the connection between the second reading and the Gospel for today.

 In the John’s Gospel account, we hear the story of the woman brought to Jesus by the community as a sinner. He tells those that have not sinned to cast the first stone; eventually, as we know, they all leave. Jesus is writing in the sand while the accusers are speaking to him. There are several theories as to what he is writing, yet they amount to the same thing. Whether he is writing the names of sinners, or the sins committed by others, what this points to is that Jesus already knows our hearts. We do not need to bring others’ faults to his attention; what is important is paying attention to our own hearts. It is not our job to keep track of others’ sins. As they all leave, what we are left with is an act of reconciliation. I believe here is where the important message lies. “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 8.11) For those of us that participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, these are the words we hear.

 The woman has now healed her relationship with God, our merciful God. Jesus came to show us another way of being and pointing out others’ faults is not part of his plan for us. Paul says that we need to give up everything, including “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ…” (Philippians 3.9). Again, giving up our attitudes will be the hardest part. As Christians we are called think about our relationship God as well as each other. It is so easy to get pulled back into an old way of being that called us to seek punishment and even violence to pay for mistakes made. God is not interested in punishing us, and this is demonstrated to us by the Word made flesh in this encounter with the woman called out by the crowd. God is interested in being with us as we try to live in community, and we need to be interested in seeing God in our lives and in each other.  

 Today’s psalm reads: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” (Ps 126) This is the greatest gift of all, the ability to have joy. We can leave behind all material things and ways of thinking if we can trust we are able to attain joy though our relationship with God. This is the only way we will be able to be the people God calls us to be.

 By Serena Shaw                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Vocation Team – Oblate Associate

780-231-3066
seshaw@shaw.ca

 

 






WHO DO I SEE?


Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20b

 It’s a common scene in the inner-city of Hamilton, ON, where when you stop your car at a red light, a person would approach your vehicle with an empty Tim Hortons cup asking for a change. What do you see, or rather, I should ask, who do you see when this happens? Do you see annoyance, laziness, a misfit in life? Or rather, a person with their story of broken relationship, some physical or mental illness and/or unfortunate circumstance in life? Do you see a person’s dignity, a poor person who is blessed?

 Many years ago, when I was studying for the priesthood, I was traveling with one of my colleagues from a pastoral experience in one of our Oblate parishes. It happened at the train station in Katowice, Poland, while we were purchasing tickets for our journey. A young man stayed close to the cashier window; he looked dirty and had an unpleasant smell. His wild look and glossy eyes showed that he was under the influence. In one hand he carried a plastic cup and silently begged for a few coins. A young woman stood in front of me in the line. Looking the other way, she showed everybody that this situation didn’t suit her. She looked like she was thinking, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people; especially like that drug addict.” Finally, when she bought her ticket, she gave him the change that she received and said, “Have this and buy drugs for yourself!”  How full of disgust and disgrace was that gesture! And I thought, “We can’t treat others like that! Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity!”

 In the beginning of his ministry, St. Eugene de Mazenod showed that there is another way to approach the poor. We don’t know people’s stories; we don’t know why they ended up in miserable places in life. But what we know is that they are our brothers and sisters, because Jesus said so: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20b

 We can read in Eugene’s notes from the homily he gave in Provencal at the church of the Magdalene on Ash Wednesday, March 3, 1813: “Come now and learn from us what you are in the eyes of faith. Poor of Jesus Christ, afflicted, wretched, suffering, sick, covered with sores, etc., all you whom misery oppresses, my brothers, dear brothers, respected brothers, listen to me. You are God’s children, the brothers of Jesus Christ, heirs to his eternal kingdom, chosen portion of his inheritance; you are, in the words of St. Peter, a holy nation, you are kings, you are priests, you are in some way Gods…”

So next time, when you stop at the red light and someone approaches you with an empty cup, just simply ask yourself, “WHO do I see?”

 By Jarek Pachocki, OMI

OMI Lacombe Canada - Vocation Director

 


 







 


 

 




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