Sunday at Saint Mary of the Assumption
"I am going fishing". Peter returns to the comfort of something he knows in the uncertain days following the Lord's Resurrection. The Lord comes to meet Peter and the others who have set out into the deep, searching for something solid and familiar, a meal of fish to fill the void of doubt. The Lord meets them in the midst of their work and weariness: "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"
Peter and the others are invited to breakfast and, probably to Peter's surprise, this is a followed by a business meeting: Peter needs to confess, does he not? And through three questions, Peter is walked back, lovingly and gently, by the Lord to that dark and lonely Good Friday when Peter's poor human love was not up to the task and he failed three times in his witness for the Lord: "I tell you, I do not know him!".
And so, twice the Lord asks: "Peter, do you agápe me?" Do you love me more than these others? More, even, than yourself? "Lord you know I have only a poor human love to offer you."
Then, upon questioning Peter for the third time "Do you love me?", the Lord reveals that He will accept the fisherman's poor human love, his philia, and gives him a means of showing love: "Feed my sheep; follow me." Follow me to your own cross, to your witness of loving me more than even yourself, to the agápe of martyrdom.
We, like Peter, cannot rely only upon ourselves for, if we do, we will be left with merely our poor human love, our philia. For agápe, for the greatest love like that of God, we must, as Peter had to learn, rely completely upon the Lord. We must follow him. And we follow him in obedience of intellect and will by listening to his voice in the world today as He teaches in matters of faith and morals through Benedict, the successor of Peter who follows the Lord Jesus by obeying God rather than men.
We hear with Benedict the attacks of the Sanhedrin of today, the worldly and diabolic voices of hatred and unbelief: "“We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?" And we answer, with Benedict the successor of the Apostles who responds as they did 2,000 years ago, in this way: “We must obey God rather than men."
And the Holy Spirit of love, God's agápe love which raised Jesus Christ from the dead, will strengthen us to reject the worldly temptation to uncertainty and discouragement: "the Holy Spirit is given by God to those who obey him".
Alleluia! Christ is risen!