May 1, 2022 – Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32,40-41 + Revelation 5:11-14 + John 21:1-19
He said that meaning by what kind of death he would glorify God.
As the Church passes through the Easter season, we continually celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But it is important to keep in mind that the point of this joy is the feast celebrated at the end of Easter: the holy feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, celebrated on the fiftieth and last day of the Easter season, is a celebration of God the Holy Spirit flooding the hearts, minds and souls of those who wish to live as members of the Body of Christ.
Pentecost is therefore the end of Easter in two senses. Pentecost is the last day of Easter time. But more importantly, Pentecost is the end of Easter in the sense of being the purpose of Easter.
Each Easter Sunday, in its own way, helps us prepare for Pentecost. The appearances of Jesus in his risen Body alert us more and more to the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church, of which God calls us to be full members.
Last Sunday we learned that on the very evening of the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles – with the exception of Thomas – and breathed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that they could forgive the sins of their fellowmen. . A few days earlier, Jesus had died on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins. However, on the evening of the Resurrection, by giving the apostles what Saint John in the book of revelation calls “the keys to death and the underworld”Jesus gave the apostles the power to free men and women from the prison of sin.
Today we hear how Christ extended the gift of reconciliation to one of the apostles in a special way. Like all the gifts God gives, this gift of reconciliation was given to Saint Peter to be a better disciple of Christ Jesus in his own particular way. After having commanded Saint Peter the miraculous catch of fish, itself a symbol of the ministry of the apostles to be “fishers of men”— Our Risen Lord asks Peter a very simple question. This question is about reconciliation.
“Simon, son of Jean, do you love me?” The fact that Jesus addresses this question to “Simon, son of John” instead of “Peter” is significant. Saint John the Evangelist, before the answer to Jesus’ question is given, refers to this man as “Simon Peter”; after the answer is given, the evangelist refers to him simply as “Rock”. We know that the name Peter means “rock”, and that it is on this rock that Jesus built his Church. Nevertheless, until Peter publicly repented three times, in order to make up for his triple public denial of Jesus, Peter could not serve as Jesus wanted.
Only by assuring Jesus that he loved him could he accept the name “Rock”. But notice also that by accepting Peter’s repentance, Jesus also gives Peter a new commandment. Jesus commands him not only to be faithful to the proclamation of His Name, as he had failed to do after the Last Supper. Jesus’ new command to Peter was something bigger: “Feed my sheep.” Peter was not just to be “rock solid,” so to speak, in preaching the gospel. Peter was to be the Rock at the very heart of the Church, upon which the whole Church would rest. Just as the Israelites in the desert struck the Rock and found a spring of living water, so the Church finds in the Rock of Peter the assurance that the words the Church teaches are the words of Jesus himself. .
This reconciliation between Jesus and Peter had to take place before Jesus could ascend to Heaven. Without the Rock of Stone to lean on, the Church could not begin its mission at Pentecost.
Why is this office of Peter – the office of the pope – so important? For many Christians, the office of Peter is a stumbling block to Christian unity, but in fact it is an assurance of the unity of the Church, for at the heart of this office is the love. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. Only this love can unite the Church here below. This love is the key to living the gospel, and it is in fact the key to the kingdom of heaven.