thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Readings may be found here
Last year, on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our group had the opportunity to visit the Basilica of Saint Peter in Gallicantu, built over the ruins of the house of the High Priest. Jesus was brought there on the night before He died. With great emotion, we prayed Psalms in the pit where Jesus was imprisoned. Just outside, in the courtyard, Peter had denied the Lord. That deeply painful moment in the gospel evokes an awareness of our own fears and limits when it comes to the call of discipleship.
The passage we hear today is equally emotional. Jesus greets the disciples as they are fishing. Peter, with that characteristic enthusiasm, jumps from the boat and rushes to the Lord. On the shore of the Sea of Galilee there is a deeply moving exchange. Peter had denied the Lord three times and fled from the terrors of Good Friday. Now, he appears to want to reclaim his place at the Lord’s side. Jesus is seated by a “charcoal fire” and addresses him by his old name – Simon – allusions perhaps to Peter’s failure? Three times the Lord asks “do you love me?” While this is a moment of deep distress for Peter, it is also a moving moment of renewal. The Lord is healing the wound of Peter’s denial. Jesus is also teaching Peter that his devotion to the Lord will now be directed to His new family of faith: “feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” The Lord Who prophesied Peter’s denial now prophesies Peter’s faithful witness even to death. Peter is forgiven and renewed and drawn back into friendship with the Lord and a share in His mission of mercy.
Never forget this redeeming merciful love of the Lord Jesus for His own. Wherever life has taken you, whatever your sins and failures, however many times your words or actions may have denied Him, He is waiting by the shore, gazing upon you with love, and thirsting to draw you back into His Friendship and the life of grace.