By Nancy Nobrega
As we witnessed the Easter Vigil, and as we celebrate Easter for the next weeks leading to Pentecost, how can we but be filled with love and gratitude and joy. We know this Holy Story so very well.
In this week’s Gospel the apostles are in awe and wonder as Jesus visits them for the third time since His resurrection. In the first reading they have much to fear as the high priest threatens them, but instead they are joyful to be considered worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name. They are full of love for Jesus. In John 4.18, we see that love replaces fear and here love has replaced the fear and confusion that they felt during Jesus’ Passion.
In the Gospel the apostles don’t recognize Jesus at first. This echoes Mary Magdalene who did not immediately recognize Jesus at His tomb. When Peter does recognize Jesus, he covers his naked body and we recall the story of Adam and Eve.
Peter is tasked with feeding the lambs and tending the sheep. This reminds us of the Good Shepherd who loves us so completely that He laid down His life for us. John writes that while around a charcoal fire Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves Him. It was around a charcoal fire that Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus wipes away the denial that Peter exhibited earlier. Jesus chooses Peter to lead His people, and Peter later lays down his life in Jesus’ name.
“Sinners” and “sins” are alluded to in this Gospel – Adam and Eve, Mary Magdalene, Peter’s denial, those Jesus loves don’t recognize Him – and they are juxtaposed to Jesus tenderly calling His apostles children. No matter what we do, as long as we keep trying and “follow” Jesus we will be forgiven and loved. Jesus knows that we make mistakes and life is messy, but in the “new and most important” commandment that accompanied Jesus’ “ new covenant” he says“love one another; even as I have loved you…” ( John 13 :34). Jesus gives us “the way” to heaven on earth. Love one another which will always include forgiveness.
How can we but be filled with love and gratitude and joy?
Acts 5.28-32, 40b-41
Nancy Nobrega is a parishioner and volunteer at St. Basil’s. In addition to her volunteer work with Magdala and R.C.I.A., she is currently a student of Theology at Regis College.