Submitted by Jan on Mon, 04/04/2016 – 13:13
3rd Sunday of Easter
Year C (2015-2016)
Bible Book: John
Verse: 1 – 19
The last story in John’s gospel describes an encounter between the resurrected Jesus and several of his disciples who were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. This was the last encounter described by John, although he concludes his gospel with hints of other encounters.
Curiously, the central figure in this story is not Jesus, but Peter, the impetuous disciple whom Jesus chose to be the rock, the foundation for Christ’s church on earth. Throughout the three years of Jesus’ ministry, Peter was quick to act. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. He leapt off a boat to join Jesus in walking on water. Sometimes, he acted quickly without thinking things through, as when he drew a sword to defend Jesus from those who had come to arrest him. Sometimes Peter’s impetuous nature led him to do things he greatly regretted, like his threefold denial of Jesus on the night of his arrest. Peter was indeed a complex character, with a very human nature full of impulses and a mixture of courage and fear.
Jesus knew all this when he asked Peter whether he loved him. He asked this question not once, but three times, which obviously frustrated poor Peter. Perhaps the reason for the repeated question was not to ensure that Peter really loved Jesus, but to reassure Peter that Jesus really loved him. Despite Peter’s impetuosity, despite his human flaws, despite his faith that was at once both complete and surprisingly shaky, Jesus’s love for Peter was constant and steadfast. And as Jesus reminded Peter three times, Peter’s job would be to show that love to all of Christ’s sheep.
That’s the important message for people in our time who are living with HIV, especially those whom we as a society have marginalized. A common reaction among people who face stigma is to doubt their own worth, to believe that they are not worth caring about, that they have somehow brought disgrace upon themselves. Jesus’ conversation with Peter is a strong reminder that Jesus’ love and compassion are unconditional. We are all God’s children, and Jesus loves all of us, despite the complexities of our human nature.
To think about: What is your attitude toward the marginalized who are so strongly affected by HIV? Do you show the same unconditional love and compassion that Jesus has for all of his sheep?
Written by: Dr David Barstow, President, EMPACT Africa and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: Barstow D (Dr)