Friday, May 17, 2013
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
you have appointed shepherds in your Church
to speak your word to us
and to build community in your name.
We pray you today:
May they be shepherds like your Son
who look for those who have lost the way,
bring back the stray, bandage the wounded
and make the weak strong.
May they all be ministers
of your tender love and service,
as Jesus was, your Son and our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 21,15-19
When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'
A second time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' He replied, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Look after my sheep.'
Then he said to him a third time, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt that he asked him a third time, 'Do you love me?' and said, 'Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep. In all truth I tell you, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.'
In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, 'Follow me.'
• We are in the last days before Pentecost. During the time of Lent the selection of the Gospels of the day continues the ancient tradition of the Church. Between Easter and Pentecost, the Gospel of John is preferred. And thus, during these last days, before Pentecost, the Gospels of the day narrate the last verses of the Gospel of John. When again we go to Ordinary time, we will go back to the Gospel of Mark. In the weeks of Ordinary Time, the Liturgy proceeds to a continuous reading of the Gospel of Mark (from the 1st to the 9th week of the Ordinary Time), of Matthew (from the 10th to 21st week of Ordinary Time) and of Luke from the 22nd to the 34th week of Ordinary Time).
• The Gospel readings for today and for tomorrow speak about the last encounter of Jesus with his disciples. It was an encounter of celebration, marked by tenderness and affection. At the end Jesus calls Peter and asks him three times: “Do you love me?” Only after having received three times the same affirmative response, Jesus entrusts to Peter the mission of taking care of the lambs. In order to be able to work in the community Jesus does not ask us many things. What he asks of us is to have much love!
• John 21. 15-17: Love in the centre of the mission. After a whole night of fishing in the lake catching not even one fish, they go to the shore, the disciples discover that Jesus had prepared bread and roasted fish for them. When they finished eating, Jesus calls Peter and asks him three times: “Do you love me?” Three times, because Peter denied Jesus three times (Jn 18, 17.25-27). After the three affirmative responses, Peter also becomes a “Beloved Disciple” and receives the order to take care of the lambs. Jesus does not ask Peter if he had studied exegesis, theology, Morals, or Canon Law. He only asks: “Do you love me?” Love in the first place. For the communities of the Beloved Disciple the force which supports and maintains united is not the doctrine, but love.
• John 21, 18-19: The foresight of death. Jesus tells Peter: Truly I tell you: when you were young, you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go! Throughout life, Peter and we also, attain maturity. The practice of love will take roots in life and the persons will not longer be the patrons of their own life. Service to the brothers and sisters out of love will prevail and will lead us. Somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go. This is the meaning of the following. And the Evangelist comments: “He tells him this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God”. And Jesus adds: “Follow me.”
• Love in John – Peter, do you love me? – The Beloved Disciple. The word love is one of the words which today are more used by us. Precisely, because of this, it is a word that has been greatly worn out. But the communities of the Beloved Disciple manifested their identity and their own project by this word. To love is, above all, a profound experience of relationship among persons in which there are similar sentiments and values: joy, sadness, suffering, growth, renunciation, dedication, fulfilment, gift, commitment, life, death, etc. All these together is summarized in the Bible in one only word in the Hebrew language. This word is hesed. Its translation in our language is difficult. Generally, in our Bibles it is translated by charity, mercy, fidelity or love. The communities of the Beloved Disciple sought to live this practice of love in a very radical way. Jesus revealed this in his encounters with persons with sentiments of friendship and tenderness, as for example, in his relationship with the family of Martha and Mary of Bethany: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” He weeps before the tomb of Lazarus (Jn 11, 5.33-36). Jesus always embodies his mission in a manifestation of love: “having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13, 1). In this love, Jesus manifests his profound identity with the Father (Jn 15, 9). For his communities, there was no other commandment, except this one “to act as Jesus acted” (1 Jn 2, 6). This presupposes to love the brethren” (1 Jn 2, 7-11; 3, 11-24; 2 Jn 4-6). Being such a central commandment in the life of the community, the writings of John define love as follows: “This is the proof of love that he laid down his life for us and we too ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”. Our love should not be just words or mere talk but something active and genuine”. (1 Jn 3, 16-17). Anyone who lives this love and manifests it in words and attitudes becomes a Beloved Disciple.
4) For Personal Confrontation
• Look within you and say: which is the most profound reason which impels you to work in the community? Love or the concern for ideas?
• Considering the relationships among us, with God and with nature, what type of community are we constructing?
5) Concluding Prayer
Bless Yahweh, my soul,
from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul,
never forget all his acts of kindness. (Ps 103,1-2)