Deacon Tony reflects: Follow me

Today’s Gospel is a wonderful Gospel, one which is key to the Catholic faith even to this day. Today we see Peter given the chance to redeem himself from the three times he denied Christ during The Passion of Our Lord. Not only that, we see Peter move from being a fisher of men to being commissioned as a shepherd of the Church, which gives scriptural support for the Petrine ministry [Acceptance of Peter as leader of the Church] in the early days of the Church. Notice too, the final words in this Gospel passage; echoing the initial call, in the same vicinity given to Peter, Andrew, James and John; “Follow me”. This call indicates the permanency of the call of Jesus, the call to follow is not just in the moment; it is a call to live our lives as followers of Jesus.

In the first reading used today, we hear the dilemma of the High Priests, we get a sense that they recognise they have made an error; however, their pride and sense of position and [I would suggest fear of what the Jews will do to them if they admit their error] means they are obliged to hold their line. They, working under their own knowledge and in their own power have no meaningful answer to the apostles who are now empowered and led by the Holy Spirit. The words of Jesus about not being worried about what to say in a time of trial are being fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is emboldening the apostles, increasing the numbers following Christ and at the same time keeping the apostles’ feet firmly on the ground as they acknowledge how they have been honoured to suffer for Christ.

The reading used from the Book of the Apocalypse is emphasising the success of the job the apostles did. But the glory is not reserved for the apostles; the focus of the glory is the Lamb. A reminder for us that everything we do for the Church has to be ‘Jesus centred.’ Sometimes we will hear that some parts of the Church are too liberal or too conservative, or people using emotion to sway others in discussion. The key here is that unless we are focussed on Christ and using that focus for the good of the world then we are in danger of moving away from Christ; possibly EVEN without realising it.

In the Gospel, which is like a mini recap of their time with Jesus. Jesus went back to where some of the apostles first encountered Him, beside the water. Some of them had decided to go fishing, perhaps going back to something they were comfortable with, or maybe they thought that their adventure with Jesus was over. Jesus had other plans in mind. He told them to cast their nets out and they found a large shoal of fish. As soon as they recognised Jesus, Peter got out of the boat, and he moved towards the Lord. Jesus then moved Peter from fisher of men to Shepherd and indicated to Peter that he would die a martyr’s death as well as encouraging them and us to follow Him.

What is Jesus calling you to do today? Does it take you out of your comfort zone? Remember with the gifts of the Holy Spirit then we are able to fulfil His mission. At times like this we need to pray and discern, trying to listen to the prompting of the Lord. Some of us are called to mundane things, which we might think are unimportant, they may feel unimportant to us, but to others they may be life changing. Others may be called to great things, which may have obvious effects; an example I’m thinking of here is when Pope Francis was elected, one of the first things he did was to ask for people to pray. Think of the millions of people watching at that moment who said those prayers with Pope Francis, think how much good those prayers did and continue to do.

Those fishermen who followed a preacher they had never met before have changed the world because they got close to Jesus. After His resurrection Jesus insisted that they stay close to Him, He gave them specific instructions to be followed. Starting with Peter, He gave us shepherds to look after us and feed us. Our response is simply to follow.

Follow Jesus, Our Risen Lord.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 642-644, 857, 995-996: the apostles and disciples as witnesses of the Resurrection
CCC 553, 641, 881, 1429: the risen Christ and Peter
CCC 1090, 1137-1139, 1326: the heavenly liturgy

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
  • Our Confirmation candidates as they continue their preparations.
  • For those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • Fr Chris at St Joseph’s who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are supporting St Joseph’s at this time.