A Vision of Hope, Courage, and Trust

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 5:27-32, 40B-41

When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

Revelation 5:11-14

I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

John 21:1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 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.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

During the Easter season, the plot of Christ’s resurrection continues to unfold, revealing the breadth and depth of God’s power. After Jesus’ death, His followers have become despondent; some hide in fear and others attempt to return to their previous lives. John’s vivid portrayal of the disciples’ two encounters with the resurrected Christ has revealed a vision of hope rather than despair; courage rather than fear; trust rather than doubt. Interestingly, Jesus dispels the disciples’ fear with ordinary and simple things but the results are anything but: the disciples who have been hiding in fear are empowered by the breath (Holy Spirit) of Christ (ref. Jn 20) and Simon Peter’s despair is transformed into hope and courage through his encounter with the risen Christ over some fish and bread (ref. Jn 21).

After Jesus’ death, his disciples are truly heart-broken. It is not difficult for us to imagine the complexities of their emotions when all their hopes and dreams have been brutally crushed. We, like the disciples, may feel shackled by sadness, disappointment, fear, and isolation when we experience loss or other adversities in life. This week’s Gospel has not only offered us a glimpse of hope but also a definite sense of mission. John begins his story with a picture of resignation and despair: Simon Peter returns to his previous life by the sea, perhaps, hoping to forget the beautiful dream of Jesus, now lost, and salvage whatever he could to survive. Yet, Jesus heals Peter’s heart and restores his faith by breaking bread with him and the other disciples. Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who encounter the risen Christ through scriptures and in the breaking of the bread, Peter’s heart must have been “burning” with a renewed fervor to “tend” and “feed” the flock as he professes his love for Jesus (ref. Lk 24: 32, Jn 21:15-17).

Indeed, Jesus does not want Peter and his other disciples, and all of us, to merely exist or survive; He desires us to thrive in God’s unconditional love. After appearing to his disciples by the sea, Jesus challenges Peter by asking, “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me more than these” (Jn 21:15)? Thrice Jesus asks; thrice Peter responds with a resounding “you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15-17). Like Peter, who, as the leader of the Church, has been given the special mandate to “Feed my Lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”; our love for Jesus can only be manifested in our complete devotion to His mission of love.

Easter, the pinnacle of our Christian faith, celebrates the glorious resurrection of Christ. Indeed, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing”, John proclaims (Rev 5:12). How could we not fall down in awe and worship our Lord and Savior who not only willingly gives up His life for us but also intercedes for us even at the height of His own suffering. He prays, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). May we offer our own suffering in tandem with Jesus’ pain to our loving Father; and as we place our lives entirely in God’s hands, let us journey forward with the assurance that God’s Spirit dwelling in us has already taken effect in transforming and empowering us to participate in Christ’s mission of love.

Posted: May 5, 2019

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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