Fr. Enrico Parry, Diocese of Oudtshoorn, South Africa.
Reflection on the readings of the Third Sunday of Easter- 1 May 2022
HOW BOUNTIFUL IS THE MERCY OF GOD!
Peter denied Jesus three times in the moment of crisis. This is the same Peter who was singled out by the Lord to be the rock on which to build his Church, against which the gates of hell will not prevail, the first among the apostles, the first pope of our church. You’ve got the wrong man, lady. I’m not the guy, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I do not know him.
This same Peter experiences the risen Lord in a unique way. Just like the others did. Mary Magdalene, the apostle of the apostles, first to see the Lord alive again, first to proclaim it to an unreceptive bunch of scared men. This after she mistook him for the gardener. The disciples on their way to Emmaus, who recognised him in the breaking of the bread. After they called him the only stranger in Jerusalem. Thomas, who refused to believe, and was given time to touch the Lord’s wounds, like the others did. Who was the only one to make that act of faith, “My Lord and my God.”
Now it was Peter’s turn to experience him in a way suited for Peter, here on the last pages of the gospel of John, in a piece that the scholars tell us, was added on later. Even so. Peter gets a three-way chance of making right his three wrongs. Of being restored to full confidence, so to say. But it is done in such a tender way, so much that it surprises. It is not done with a rebuke, such as he got once before, “Get behind me, satan.” Neither is it done through a word of blame, like we all know, “Peter, how could you. You of all people? How could you?” No. Just, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” Through a word of love so tender, so unexpected, so unusual, that even poor Peter is unsettled by it.
Do you love me? This is what the risen Lord is saying to me, to you. That’s all. No rebuke. No blame. Just love. So then, maybe it is a clue of how we could do it among ourselves as we walk on the road together. Maybe that’s ultimately how we get to join the ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands upon thousands praising the One who is sitting on the throne.
A word of love, then?