Saturday, April 17, 2010

3rd Sunday of Easter Year C - 2010

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts.

Just three years ago this week all of us witnessed a tragedy,
when a young man filled with hurt and rage killed 32 of his professors and classmates and then took his own life.

The events at VT should gave all of us pause.
They should call all of us to stop and reflect.
They should compel us to ponder their meaning.
There is a lesson to be learned in this tragedy.

Let us be attentive and let us not forget history lest we be doomed to repeat it.
I believe that the heart of that young man gave us a glimpse of what
a world without Christ would look like.

It is a world where people feel
Frightened, worthless, isolated.

It is a world where people are
tragically confused angry or sadly filled with rage.

It is a world “out of control” a world where people just can’t think straight,
a world without Christ lacks justice, respect, or any real semblance of peace,
a world without Christ can be a tragic world indeed.

As we remember the events of that tragic day
we see how when even one person in our world lives and feels that way,
they are capable of making the whole world cry.

Yes fear, isolation, rage, can make us all cry.
Brothers and Sisters we are in the season of Easter

We have just celebrated with joy the resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Christ - God made Man
Jesus Christ - Who by his life taught us how to love
Jesus Christ - Who conquered sin and death by dying on the cross
Jesus Christ - The alpha and the omega the beginning and the end.
There is no room for fear, or hate or isolation, or resentment in a world redeemed by our Jesus our Risen Lord…

In today’s Gospel, a post resurrection narrative,
there are three key components
the restoration of Peter
the command to feed and tend God’s flock
and the shadow of the cross.

We all know that tragically Peter who was chosen by Jesus to lead the Church publicly denied Jesus three times.

He denied that he even knew him.
Because of fear he tried to convince those people standing around the fire on the night of judgment that Jesus was never a part of his life.

He tried to convince them that his was a world without Christ.
“I don’t know him
I don’t know him
I tell you I don’t even know him,”
He said.

What sad words,
fear has the power to make us do terrible things watch terrible things and say terrible things indeed.
In Today’s Gospel
Jesus doesn’t lecture him
Jesus doesn’t scold him or make an example of him.
Jesus simply asks him a question three times
Once for each time of the times Peter denied him

Do you love me Peter?
Feed My Sheep
Do you love me Peter?
Tend my Sheep
Do you Love me Peter?
Feed my Sheep

With those simple words
Peter is forgiven, restored.
And they are given publicly so that there is not a shadow of a doubt where Peter stands with Jesus.

His forgiveness is complete. 
He is healed of his apostasy
and Jesus refocuses Peter on his mission to shepherd God’s people.

Not only is he forgiven and restored but Christ reminds him that fulfilling God’s will, will cost him.
He encourages him not to be consumed by fear again.

In that same moment of restoration and forgiveness
Christ foretells the type of sacrifice Peter will be called upon to make.
We can never forget holy ones that Love is never free
True Love is never without sacrifice

We all know that in the end Peter would pay the same price of love
that Christ paid

We all know that like Christ Peter was crucified…
Crucified upside down to be exact….

When Peter paid the final price of love.
there was no denial
there was no fear
Fear had no more power over him.
Love the love of Christ had won the battle in Peter’s heart.

What does all of this have to do with us?
What should we be thinking about as we hear this Gospel and reflect on the tragedy of Virgina Tech and so many other places in the world like it?

The first thought which came to my mind was this.
All of us like Peter need to be restored.
All of us like Peter need the forgiveness that only God can give.
All of us like Peter have denied Christ both in word and deed.
Not three times but over and over again
all of us.
And all of us can be forgiven.

Forgiveness is one of the key components of Christ’s message.
We all can be forgiven.
And all of us are called to forgive and be instruments of God’s forgiveness and God’s healing.

The second thought which came to my mind is this.
none of us are extra,
none of us superfluous
all of us are needed
all of us are essential
we are all key players in God’s plan.

There is not a person alive now who doesn’t wish that someone could have reached into that young man’s heart,
And pulled him away from is horrifying isolation and rage.

How many chances were missed?
How many tries were made?
What happened?
How did he not come to know that he could be loved?
How did he not know that he had value?
How is it that in our great age of science his sickness what not recognized and treated appropriately?
How were the cries for attention, found in his writings and in his bizarre lifestyle not get the attention and healing they were so desperately seeking ?
How did fear and hate win in the heart of this young man?

No none of us are superfluous
all of us are needed.

When Jesus calls upon Peter to feed his sheep and tend his lambs
He calls upon us all to do the same
To reach out to the isolated
The awkward
The lonely

He called us all to be messengers of the power of love.
The message of Christ is meant for everyone
No matter what.

Finally today’s Gospel reminds us that love is never free.
And that all of us will be called to pay the price of love

When Jesus reminds Peter that he will have to face the cross
Jesus reminds all of us that the same cross that awaited him will be shared in some way by anyone who loves,
all who heal,
all who build up,
all who try to make people feel whole,
everyone who follows Christ,
will have to face the cross.
If we never feel the pain,
if we never face the cross,
if our religious practice is easy,
then we have to ask ourselves
is our love real and authentic?

Brothers and Sisters,
let us ponder all of these things in our hearts.
Let us put them into action in our lives.
Let us live and love without fear and without counting the cost.
For world without Christ’s message is a terrible world indeed.
We have a lot to do

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