Acts 5, 27-32 + Psalm 30 + Revelation 5, 11-14 + John 21, 1-19
April 10, 2016 at Saint Peter & St William Churches in Naples, FL
With Peter before us today, the Gospel affirms that strength and weakness can be found in the same person, and I suppose that is good news for all of us. The weakness of Peter is there all along and it is unmistakable, but Christ sees Peter’s strength and that too is good news for us because Peter is not the only person in whom there is strength and weakness. As we gather here today, we can only hope that Christ sees some strength in us as well.
There is a pattern to Peter’s experience with Christ that we might refer to as: “Call, Fall, and Re-call.” That first call occurred as Jesus was beginning his ministry. The second call is the one we hear today. Perhaps about three years passed between those calls, and during that time a lot of things happened to Peter. He found out a lot about the one who called him, about the task to which he was called, and most of all, he found out a lot about himself, and most of that was nothing to brag about. When the second call comes, he is a lot more wise and humble, and so his response this time is much more mature and enlightened than the first time.
I like to think that Peter’s story is a lot like our own, and that pattern of “Call, Fall, and Re-call” is ours as well. It’s that middle part that matters, and makes us more wise and humble as well. Sadly, too many people get the first two parts of this experience, but miss the third. When the fall comes, it’s just too devastating and too destructive. They never hear or respond to the re-call for one reason or another. We all know people like that who have fallen and never get up, who have faced a tragedy and never risen, and who have been broken and never healed: people whose weaknesses overcome their strengths.
The story of Peter is the heart of the Gospel message for people who have strengths and weaknesses, who have been called to faith and have fallen. Still in this Easter Season, we proclaim as a church that with Christ, no fall is the end of the story. We are, because of the power of forgiveness, all re-called again. The story reminds us that something more is expected of people who are forgiven, of people who have fallen. There is no just going back to the way things were, like Peter and his friends going back to their boats. Once called and fallen, there is forgiveness and then there is Mission. There is something more to do after forgiveness and reconciliation.
In today’s world, we cannot be “Keep it to ourselves” Catholics. The world is starving for spiritual nourishment, and people are looking for God everywhere. There is too much ignorance and prejudice about Christians and our beliefs. Our society is growing increasingly unwilling to defend the dignity of innocent human life, increasingly dismissive of the critical importance of married love to the health of human society, and increasingly hostile to the teachings of Jesus. If we do not speak up, who will? We are all re-called in our strength and weakness to love and feed his lost sheep. He has given us his Holy Spirit with all the gifts we need to do so. All we need to do now is step out with faith and courage and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest.