Sunday, April 10, 2016

3rd Sunday of Easter: Live For His Name

Today's first reading is from Acts. We will continue reading from this book during the Easter season into Pentecost. This book tells the story of how the Apostles began to preach the Gospel.  We see that in today's reading.  The apostles were teaching in Jesus' name (John 14:13). Because of this, they were harassed by the Sanhedrin or the old Jewish priests of the Pharisee and Sadducees cult (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9).  This court of elders (Sanhedrin) did not want the apostles teaching about Jesus. They wanted the name of Jesus to disappear for good.  However, this was not God's will. Jesus specifically sent the apostles to preach the Gospel. The apostles made it clear that they must obey God ranter than men. These words should be clear to us today where Christianity is under attack and many times we are caught between obeying laws and following our faith. Some of us have been jailed already for this. We must obey God rather than men. If we do this, we will suffer of course because the world is against God (Matthew 5:11, Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9). Just turn on the news and see how the world is against God. Sometimes I wonder myself what is keeping the human race in existence. There is so much evil in the world that humanity should have wiped itself off the globe a long time ago! Anyhow, we must not be ashamed to preach Christ in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). We must rejoice when we suffer for the sake of the name because this means we are doing God's will (Romans 5:3-5). This means that we have begun to pick up the cross and are starting to carry it (Matthew 16:24). God will rescue us from danger as we read in the responsorial Psalm today.

We must praise the Lord, because He has rescued us! Though people will target us for our faith in God, God will not let them rejoice over us (Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:43). God will save us.  God is worthy of praise even during hardships.  We may mourn when we are targeted for our faith.  We may feel sad or embarrassed. We may feel God has abandoned us, but He has not. Our mourning will turn into dancing. We will dancing like in a Zumba class out of joy because we are victorious in Him who rose from the dead, Christ the Lord!

The second reading tells us about Christ the Lord, the Lamb who was slain and worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom and strength (John 1:29). Christ is the Lord. He rose from the dead showing He has power over life and death. The whole world and universe cries out, "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever."  We all say with the four living creatures or cherubim, AMEN! Christ is with us always and never has abandoned us. We see this in today's Gospel.

In today's Gospel, there are two versions: a longer and a shorter one. Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples once again. Peter, Thomas who doubted, Nathanael, Zebedee's sons and two other unnamed disciples were going fishing. At dawn, Jesus was standing there on the shore but the disciples did not recognize Him.  Jesus asks them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"  They replied, "No." Then Jesus tells them to cast the net to the right side.  When they did this, they caught so many fish that it was too heavy to pull into the boat. At this moment, Peter recognized that it was Jesus.  Peter recognized Him because the situation was similar to when they first met. We read this on the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time back in February of this year see:

Jesus and the apostles then had breakfast with the fish and bread which was available. The longer version of today's Gospel has Jesus asking Peter if He loves Him. Jesus asks three times and tells Peter to feed His sheep and tend His lambs.  Jesus did this to remind Peter of the three times Peter denied Him (Luke 22:54-62). He is giving Peter another chance to answer correctly this time instead of denying Him.  Notice He tells Peter to care for His sheep and lambs showing that Peter would take His place as shepherd, or will be His vicar (Matthew 16:18).  Here we see why the Pope, the successor of Peter is the vicar of Christ. Jesus left Peter in charge of His flock until He returns.

Lastly, we see Jesus telling Peter that just like older people are led to where they will not want to go, so too will he be led where he does not want to go. Jesus was telling Peter about his martyrdom which would take place near where the Vatican is.  Peter would be crucified upside-down because he did not want to die in the same manner as his Lord. His remains were buried where St. Peter's basilica stands.  Some of our Protestant friends claim that Peter was never in Rome but we know via 1 Peter 5:13 that he was since he uses the 'code' word for Rome, 'Babylon."

We must follow Jesus everywhere, seek Him in our daily lives just like the apostles recognized Him while fishing.  We must be ready to suffer and go where we do not want to go for the Lord's name.  May the risen all powerful Jesus Christ be praised!


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