April 18: Third Sunday of Easter Year C
Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19
Meal, mission and martyrdom are the key words that sum up the central message of the readings of this Third Sunday of Easter. At the celebration of today, we proclaim in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that indeed Christ is the Lord. In the reading from the Apocalypse, Christ is seen in glory with the Father. The risen Lord is the Lamb that was sacrificed and who is worthy to be given power, glory and blessing. The whole creation is in worship before the Father and the Son. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the News of the resurrection is spreading rapidly through the preaching of the apostles. They had been warned not to preach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John having defied those orders, are now before the Council of Elders for questioning. Peter’s answer is a determined conviction in the resurrection. “Better for us to obey God than men! We testify to this. So too does the Holy Spirit.” Like the apostles we must be prepared to accept suffering (martyrdom) as we give our witness to the risen Lord.
In the Gospel, we can plot the three key words quite clearly. Christ the risen Lord, appears once more to his disciples by the sea of Tiberias. They had gone fishing, but had caught nothing all night. Suddenly someone on the shore asks to them to throw the nets to the right of the boat in order to catch something. Having done that, they had such a great catch of fish that John the beloved disciple realized that it was the Lord. To remove all doubts, Jesus invites them to a meal on the shore. This meal is like a second chance. They did not completely get it at his sacrificial death and now risen, but they do not yet get it. So Jesus at this sea shore meal gives them another chance as they share another meal. This meal is a renewal of their resurrection faith in Jesus Christ. In fact that renewal starts already at the miraculous catch of fish as John tells Peter, “It is the Lord.” At the sharing of the meal, the disciples are convinced that it is the risen Lord. At this meal, all the memories of shared meals come back and above all the sacrificial sacrifice on Calvary is very fresh indeed. They even remember how they denied and ran away. Here was a second chance to renew their commitment to Jesus. At every Sacrifice of the Mass, every Sunday, we renew our commitment and faith in Jesus Christ as we share his Sacrificial Meal that He prepares for us. Every Mass is indeed a second chance. The second scene in the Gospel is the mission of Peter. Jesus asks Petter a threefold question, “Do you love me?” in order to reserve Peter’s threefold denial. Here a wonderful forgiveness takes place as Peter responds each time “I do Lord” and Jesus telling him each time “Feed my sheep. In other words, Peter has to show that love in deeds by feeding and caring for Christ’s flock. The third scene is about Peter’s death, his martyrdom (foretold by Jesus here) which also means witness. Peter and all the disciples would indeed die as martyrs because of their witness to Christ. So what is the message? 1) The Sacrifice of the Mass, like the meal at the lake shore is our second chance for renewal and recommitment. 2) Like Peter, through our baptism we are given a mission of feeding and nouring Christ, flock through our action – not mere words; 3) Like the disciples, we too must be committed witnesses even to the point of dying for our faith.
©2010 John S. Mbinda