Monday, April 15, 2013

3rd Sunday of Easter

            Peter is a fascinating man.  For starters, he can’t catch a fish without divine intervention!  (And in that regard he reminds me of my Dad!)  But I’ll refrain from preaching about Middle Eastern fishing strategies from 2000 years ago.
            On Passion Sunday and Good Friday we saw Peter’s denial of Christ.  He was weak—scared to even admit he knew Jesus.  Now we see him after being arrested for the faith confidently declaring, “We must obey God rather than men.”  What happened?  How did Peter go from being a coward to the strongest leader in the early Church and eventually give his life for the faith?
            Peter had a conversion.  Now this conversion isn’t a conversion in a strict sense.  When I first think of a conversion I imagine Saul who was struck down and introduced to Jesus in a dramatic way.  Paul did a 180 for Jesus.  Peter, though, already knew Jesus.  He followed him for three years, watching him cure, forgive and perform miracles.  At one point Peter declared Jesus was the son of God.  Peter’s conversion, then, was one of depth.
            We see this conversion take place in the Gospel from today.  Three times Jesus asks Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  After denying Jesus three times, Peter now affirms, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
When I first imagined this scene I pictured Jesus talking to Peter alone in a heavenly dimension.  But remember, Peter’s fishing buddies were present and they all knew that Peter had denied Jesus.  Thus Peter’s declaration of his love for Jesus is a public act.
When was the last time you told someone that you loved God or that you loved Jesus?  Not that you believed in God or Jesus, but loved Him?  I think this is what we need to do in our society to follow Peter’s call to love God over man.
Granted, this is becoming increasingly difficult.  Our society has taken God out of public places.  Violence and infidelity are staples on TV and movies.  There is a different golden rule in place—he who has the gold gets to make the rules. 
Is it easy to proclaim our love of Christ to the world?  No.  Yet we are not alone in this task.  Peter showed by his conversion of depth that God’s grace is sufficient through the most difficult times—even when it cost Peter his life.  I challenge you to tell someone you know that you love Jesus this week.  Then watch as Christ draws you into deeper relationship with him as you continue to proclaim the Gospel which our world so desperately needs. 

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