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An Opportunity for Growth

Challenge: Work on improving yourself today. What does God expect from you?
by Father James Swanson, LC | Source:

April 18, 2010
Third Sunday of Easter

John 21: 1-19
After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here and now as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.

Petition:  Lord, you know that I love you, but increase my love.

1. Peter’s Position Is Reaffirmed
The Lord has given Peter a job, and he expects Peter to do it. But Peter has proven himself unworthy; he denied Jesus three times in the house of the High Priest on the night Jesus was handed over. When Jesus needed him most, Peter turned away from him. What is Jesus’ response? Does he take away the leadership position from Peter and give it to someone else? Hasn’t John shown that he is better suited to be the leader of the apostles, to be the rock Jesus can build his Church on? He never ran away or denied Jesus, even when the High Priest, knowing John was also a disciple, could easily have killed him along with Jesus. Yet Jesus does not take the job away from Peter and give it to John. Rather, he turns to Peter again and renews his confidence in him.

2. Peter’s Haughtiness Is His Downfall
Peter had a deep love for Jesus, but not deep enough. On the night of the Last Supper, he thought he was capable of dying for Jesus, but he was wrong. When the test came, Peter came up short. Like Peter, we tend to overestimate our own readiness to follow Jesus. We do fine under ordinary circumstances, but when difficult moments come – temptations, opposition, even persecution – we fail. Like Peter, we come up short. We love the Lord, but not enough. Jesus’ reaction to us is the same: He does not lose confidence in us. Neither does he let us off the hook. He expects us to grow into the job.

3. Growing into the Lord’s Expectations
What is Peter’s shortcoming? He doesn’t love Jesus enough. His love was real, but there were still things greater than his love – his fear for instance. On the night of the Last Supper, he ran away when Jesus was arrested. He denied Jesus three times. In each instance, his fear was greater than his love. To be the first Pope, he needed greater love than that. He needed a love without limits. That is why Jesus asks him three times: “Do you love me?” He is telling Peter that the qualification for the job is unlimited love. Peter has to have an unlimited love in order to be the rock on which Jesus builds his Church. Jesus is not letting him off the hook. He isn’t giving the job to someone else. Peter has to get that love, just as I have to develop an unlimited love to qualify for the tasks in life that Jesus has given me.

Conversation with Christ:  Lord, I know that when you gave me the responsibilities I have, you gave me the grace to fulfill them, too. Help me not to be lazy or irresponsible in serving you. Encourage me like you encouraged Peter, so I can fulfill all you expect from me in this life.

Resolution:  I will work on improving myself today. Maybe I can find a spiritual book that will help me get closer to God. Maybe I can find a class or conference that will help me in some aspect of what God expects from me – parenting, prayer, charity, etc. – and sign up for it today.

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