Acts 5:27-32, 40B-41
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.