Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Today's Readings:
Acts 25:13b-21
Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab
John 21:15-19

Turning repentance into ministry

In today's Gospel passage, three times Jesus asks Peter to confess his love; three times, Jesus commissions him to become a shepherd to continue the ministry of the Good Shepherd.

In scripture, anything spoken three times means "to the utmost" (like "good, better, best"). When Peter denied Jesus three times, he rejected Jesus to the utmost. Jesus knew this and, with utmost compassion, gave Peter a complete healing from that break in their relationship by offering him the opportunity to confess his love to the utmost.

Jesus does the same for you and me. Any time we deny, reject, or hurt anyone — anyone at all! — we are doing this to Jesus (see Matt. 25:31-46). But because of his great mercy and compassion for us, he always always always (to the utmost) gives us opportunities to heal the break in our relationship with him. And then, just like he did for Saint Peter, he gives us the mission of taking his love to others.

We must do everything reasonably possible to reconcile with others, and after we've made amends, or if we have no opportunity to heal a broken relationship, Jesus gives us a ministry of healing — on a wider scale, to other people — and this helps expiate our sins, purifies our growth, and heals many who are waiting for God's help.

In cases where priests (or anyone else) molested children or caused other scandals in the Church, the bigger scandal is when nothing good comes from it. Jesus is asking, "Do you love me? What are you going to do about it?" God can turn anything eventually into a ministry — and he wants to!

At the site on the Sea of Galilee where Peter received his vocation (at the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter), a sign reads:

The deeds and miracles of Jesus
are not actions of the past.
Jesus is waiting for those who are
still prepared to take risks at his word
because they trust his power utterly.

What is Jesus commissioning you to do? In whatever ways you have sinned, if you have not yet turned them into a ministry, God is waiting to hear you say, "Yes, Jesus, you know I love you. I say yes to the ministry you give to me, no matter how risky or impossible it seems. I choose to trust in your guidance, your directions. Tell me what to do!"

To that prayer, Jesus gives a resounding AMEN!


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