From the pastor’s desk
Third Sunday of Easter – Year C– “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for
themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15)”
In our contemporary society, we value so much freedom to the extent that we fight so much in defense of whatever encroaches on our freedom and rights. Many go so far and look at religion as infringements on their freedom. What in fact we claim as our freedom deprives us of the true freedom and happiness. The true freedom and happiness have been won for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ through his life, death and esurrection. He has freed us from fear, enslavement, discouragements, Satan, sin and eternal death.
Today, we have seen how Jesus appeared to Simon Peter and the other six of his disciples who in their
discouragement had gone back to their former way of fishing. Without Jesus, they fished all night long and caught nothing. In the morning Jesus came to encounter them. At his command, they caught so much fish that they could not pull in. With this the beloved disciple recognized that it is the Lord. Jesus invited them to breakfast and revealed himself to them. At breakfast, Jesus did for them what he did at the last supper. He took the bread as well as the fish which he gave to them just as he did at the last supper. This was within the Eucharistic context symbolized by bread and fish. As Christians, whenever we meet on the day of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist, the Risen Lord is in our midst offering his very self to us as food for our nourishment. When we eat of him and drink of him, we no longer remain our former selves.
We are now transformed into his very self. He gives us a share in his life, death and resurrection. He dispels our fears and discouragements. He gives us his spirit and grace to continue his Divine mission. He changes us with his love, mercy and forgiveness just as he did with Peter. We see how he calls Simon Peter by name three times asking him if he loved him. Each time, Peter answered affirmatively, Jesus gave him the mission mandate to share and continue his Divine mission as the good shepherd, to take care of his flock. Traditionally, it is interpreted as Jesus wanting Peter to negate his three-fold denial of him at his passion.
By so doing, Jesus makes Peter to understand that he no longer lives for himself but for him who died and rose again from the dead. Peter in the end would seal the gospel he preached with his own blood during the persecution of Nero between 64 AD and 68 AD., when he was crucified up-side down in Rome. This fulfilled what Jesus told him: “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 (Jn 21:18).” At the invitation of Jesus:
“follow me (Jn 21:19),” Peter starting following him all the way, no longer living for himself. He continued the Divine mission of Jesus. He preached the Easter kerygma about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and filled the Jewish society with the Easter message. He was ordered by the high priest and the religious authorities of his time, never more to speak again in the name of the Lord. To this Peter and the apostles responded that it is better to obey God than men and went further to preach the salvific message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which God offers to Israel and to all forgiveness of sins, as well as the Holy Spirit that God offers to those who obey him. Peter and the apostles left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name of Jesus. Like Peter and the apostles, Jesus wants us to identify with him and to repent of our past betrayals and denials, he wants us to reaffirm our love and to follow him. He wants us to continue his Divine mission here on earth, so as to be part of the triumphal Church in the end to sing the praises of the Lamb that was slain who now seats on the throne with power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and praise!
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD