Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Round up the usual suspects

With the recent, and wholly unsurprising, decision of the Church of England to consecrate bishopettes, the usual cranks have come out of the woodwork. In recent days blogs have appeared by Roman Catholic polemicists to make the argument that this was inevitable going back to the days of Henry VIII. One went as far as to say that the Church of England separated from Rome due to "Liberalism." It is the first time I have ever heard of Henry VIII (or maybe Elizabeth I; they never could could tell the two monarchs and their respective reigns apart) being called a Liberal. In the words of the great General and Secretary of War in Werfington, Brownie Clark: "I guesses we has never seen quite as much 'all' as we thunk so."

Nonetheless, there it is again; the root argument, trying to put an entirely unhistorical idea into a historical context. In short, it is based on the notion that everything that develops in history is rendered inevitable due to some key moment seen as its flawed origin. By that argument we could blame everything from Arianism to the Crusades on the original establishment of the Church by Christ Himself. He must have gotten something wrong, because, well...look at what happened centuries later.

By this argument every criminal's grandparents should be convicted, if even posthumously, for their descendant's crimes. If modern Church of England Anglicans are consecrating women as bishops, well then, that just proves that the Church of England Reformers were really Liberals in disguise. "Ergo," argue the polemicists, "all of Anglicanism has been false all along." Therefore, they would further argue, even the Orders of Continuing Anglicans must not be valid; not because of anything that happened in the sixteenth century, but because of a decision made in 2014. Roman polemicists are good at retroactive truth in general, so we should not be surprised.

And once again they sound the old refrain, Anglicanism has finally been revealed to be Protestant instead of Catholic. They see Anglican church history as a constant tension between a Protestant or Catholic identity. What part of Catholic and reformed do they fail to get? I am glad for our Protestant Catholic theology, heritage and identity. I will not throw away part of the truth as if that is necessary to sacrifice one portion for another. I am both Catholic and Protestant, because that is what an Anglican is.

The Liberalism of the Church of England is not news, and the dubious validity of their orders goes back to the ordination of women. For Continuing Anglicans the Canterbury Communion ceased to be relevant long ago. Specifically, the Anglican Catholic Church long ago added a sentence to the Affirmation of St. Louis, to the effect that the See of Canterbury no longer has any special meaning to us, because the Church of England has made its bad decisions.  

After Joshua died, a new generation arose that did not know the Lord, and had not seen His wonders. That is how the Book of Judges opens. It does not blame Israel's fall into idolatry on Moses. Each generation makes its choices, and the Church of England became Liberal not because of its theology, but because of its rejection of its own heritage. That is where we, Continuing Anglicans, come to the rescue.

"Evidently, 2,000 of years of tradition was no match for 20 years of controversy."

For us separation from the Canterbury Communion was a settled issue by 1978. Some in the Church of England felt safe back then. See the article here.

Please pray

for the full recovery of Albion Land, founder of this blog. He reported on his Facebook page that he has had what he called "a minor stroke." From what I have heard he is recovering; pray that it will be complete.

Bishop Alan Kenyon-Hoare of the Anglican Catholic Church in South Africa was admitted to hospital yesterday suffering from chest pains. One artery is completely blocked, and they are waiting to see what the doctor recommends.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Romans 8:18-23   Luke 6:36-41
The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading come in separate sections. Let us look at each one, one by one.

Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 

This is not about pretending not to know right from wrong, but about mercy. All too easily, we apply to others a standard we would not want applied to us, not about right and wrong, but about forgiveness. It goes without saying that everybody, including everybody here, is a sinner. I am not talking about notorious and unrepentant sin. I am not talking about accepting a low standard of conduct, either for others or for ourselves. I am talking about the need of every person, at some point, to be forgiven failures or offenses.
          Jesus commands us to be merciful because God Himself is merciful: “Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” It is that very appeal, to be merciful because God is merciful, that is taken up later by St. Paul"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Eph. 4:32) "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colo. 3:13)
          One thing that has plagued the Church in recent decades, particularly our own Continuing Anglican branch of it, is a readiness to pull away from each other. Rather, God commands us to acquire the combination of love and humility that preserves not only good order, but the sacramental bond of fellowship and communion by which we are in Christ. Separating from a religious body that cast off the truth of the Gospel was unavoidable; but, continued secessions are not, thereby, justified.
          God, as our Father through His only begotten Son, has brought us into His own family and made us His children. Just as an earthly father rejoices to see his grown children love one another, and is grieved if it is otherwise, so it is out of love for God that we are told to love one another in the Church. “Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you," says St. Paul; and “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
          Not be a judge means not to set yourself up as the judge, not to condemn, not to write off your brothers and sisters as hopeless cases, beyond the pale, not worth bothering with. It is easy to take a mental photograph that freezes individuals in time, perhaps at their worst. But, the truth is that the Holy Spirit, the One Who is at work in your heart and life, is active also in changing and sanctifying all of God’s children. That mental image you retain, taken at someone’s worst moment, needs to be torn up and thrown away. This requires faith in God, in this case, in the Holy Spirit Who is at work changing your brother just as He is changing you.
          Since the measure you mete will be meted out to you, love one another, be merciful, and have faith that God the Holy Spirit is at work.
And he spoke a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 
Jesus used the image of the blind leading the blind, on another occasion, to speak about the dangers of religious leaders who teach false doctrines (Matt. 15: 12-14), specifically of the Pharisees. But, here in this context, Jesus uses the same words to speak of something different, which we shall see in a moment. But, first let us consider the words, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
          Though He was Lord of Heaven and Earth, Jesus accepted the role of a servant for our sakes. His patience was more than remarkable; it was, literally, Divine.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:10,11)
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:13-17)
Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:28)
This must be the attitude of each one of us in His Church. We are here to serve, to wash one another’s feet, and so to be like our Master (or Rabbi).
          Amen sat in my office and told me he wanted to be a priest, in fact, that he wanted to be a bishop, and that he asked me, hypothetically, “isn’t it right to want to climb to the top of your chosen field?” I told him to forget entirely about ordained ministry; that I would not help him on that road, not even one little bit. If ever he comes back to see me, I will hope it will be because he wants to serve God, even if it means washing the feet of his brethren; and that he will have no longer a desire born of ambition. It is enough to be like our Rabbi, our Master Who came not to be served. And, this calling, to be like Christ, is everyone’s calling. It is your calling and it is mine. Be content to serve in whatever way God has called you and given you gifts for service. It is enough.

And why beholdest thou the mote [speck] that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam [log] that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
You can see, as I said, from the context that Jesus has used the image of the blind leading the blind, and both of them falling into a ditch, differently from how He used it regarding the Pharisees. And, here we see that one of the services you may provide, out of love that moves you to be merciful as our Father is merciful, is to pull the speck out of your brother’s eye.
          To the degree that your brother may need your help, you cannot help him blinded, as you are, if you are walking around with a log protruding out of your own eye. When it comes to helping your brother get his eye clear, if you are the one to be of help, first remove the log that blinds you.
          Well, that is simple enough to understand, surely. But, the reality is subtle. We all prefer to see the faults of others, and to ignore our own faults; and that includes the fault of finding fault. 
Consider what I am saying in light of last week’s theme, about Satan going about as a roaring lion. Spiritual warfare is a reality concerning which our own people have all too often been quite dangerously naïve. Think of these words by St. Paul: 
To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (II Cor. 2:10,11)
          But, today the Church is ignorant of Satan’s devices. One of the tragedies of our Continuing churches is the disproportionate number of people, in far too many cases even of clergy, who proved themselves ignorant of Satan’s devices… We cannot afford the luxury of ignorance about Satan’s devices. He still goes about as a roaring lion, and it takes real humility to resist him. It takes, also, steadfastness in the faith.

          We have an enemy already – our common enemy; and we are all the same side. It must be like the musketeers said: “All for one and one for all.” Or, to put it better, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." “Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

From The Guardian

"The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church's governing body, the General Synod."

You can see the rest of this news article here.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Third Sunday after Trinity

I Pet. 5:5-11 * Luke 15:1-10

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

As soon as St. Peter tells us to humble ourselves, in the context of being subject one to another, he launches into this warning and reminder that we are in state of war. Spiritual warfare is a reality all too easy to forget, because it involves what we cannot see, an invisible yet very real enemy. Some passages remind us that we are commanded to put up an offence and to attack strongholds (“the gates of Hell” suggests that it is the enemy camp that must put up the greater defense- Matt. 16:18). This is especially so of every passage wherein the Lord gives us the Great Commission (e.g. Matt. 28:18-20). But, here Peter warns us to be on the defensive against attacks by Satan and his minions, defeated though they may be.    
          The humility of which Peter speaks has everything to do with our fellowship with one another in the Church. Christian fellowship is not merely a social “fellowship.” It is a lifeline we extend to one another in times of peril; it is mutual support in a war effort; it is care for those in need. The same word for “fellowship” is also the Greek word translated as “communion” when speaking of the sacrament:  “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
(I Cor. 10:16) The word is κοινωνία (koinōnia). Our fellowship with one another is more than social; it is sacramental.
          When we face the reality of spiritual warfare, we must recall the fellowship of the Church, the Body of Christ, as the living, real and vital communion of saints both living and departed (or militant and triumphant) to which we belong by virtue of baptism, that is, by being in Christ. To withstand the assaults of the invisible enemy, assaults on our minds above all else, we begin by having an attitude that makes us subject one to another.
          This line, however, is a little longer than what we heard already today. All of verse five, the opening of today’s Epistle reading, says: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” The elder is the πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros), from which the English word “priest” evolved. The first verse of this whole chapter makes it clear that the elder is a man ordained, who must care for your souls, not just an older man. Here it is from the top, verse one:
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder…etc.”

Frankly, there was no word for “laity” exactly. What Peter is saying is the same as what the writer to the Hebrews said: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Heb. 13:17) Earlier, in that chapter, they are identified as those “who have spoken unto you the word of God.” (v.7)
          In other words, obedience must be given to the word of God. Also, the elder is responsible to speak the word of God, not to be a dictator or to impose his own desires. As the prophet Malachi put it, “For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 2:7) Before the charge to be subject one to another, we find the charge to hear what the elder or priest is saying by the word of God as the messenger of the Lord. Everyone is called to humility if we hear the whole context, including the men who must rule (which means care for) the church without taking the attitude of being lords over God’s people.
          Now, the simple fact is that our adversary the Devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The context suggests to us that without humility each one of us would be in great danger. It is not enough simply to be free of an overwhelming ego, and not enough to feel humble. Safety requires us to get back to the meaning of fellowship, or communion, with one another in the Church in an attitude of being subject one to another; at the very least it means a willingness to hear more than to speak. It means humility to learn and to hear.
          Peter spoke from life experience. He was among the Apostles both before and after the great events of Christ’s resurrection appearances to them, and both before and after Pentecost. He could remember a time when they understood very little, so that “the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed” girded Himself in a towel and washed the feet of His disciples to teach them humility. For, they had gone into this most sacred of feasts arguing among themselves about which of them should be accounted the greatest. (Luke 22:24) 
          Peter could look back on that, and remember his boastful pride: “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” In His own faithfulness to His Apostles, Jesus spoke of events to come, and of their real significance. Peter could well remember, therefore, the Lord turning to him and saying deep and profound words that would only later take hold of him, when pride in his own strength was exhausted and gone:
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22: 31,32)

          I have quoted the King James Bible (1611), in which the word “you” was a plural word, and in which the word “thee” was singular. We have lost this in the English language, and the loss is a loss for Bible translation. Know this: In both the King James Bible and in the Book of Common Prayer, the words beginning with “Y” –you, yours, ye- are addressed always to more than one person. “Satan hath desired to have you” meant that he desired to have all of the twelve Apostles. But, in His next words Jesus spoke specifically to Peter; for the “Th” words are always addressed only to one individual (for He did not say the same about Judas), that is to Peter: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
          When this Apostle, all those years later, wrote this Epistle to the Church (that is, to you and me, to the Church in every generation and place), warning us of the Devil like a roaring lion, he could look back on the night when the same Devil desired to have all of the Apostles to sift them as wheat. Do not think times have changed so much; at least, do not think that way about spiritual warfare. Satan still goes about as a roaring lion, and it still takes the combination of humility and steadfastness in the faith to resist his attacks.
          Think of these words by St. Paul:

“To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Cor. 2:10,11)

          But, today the Church is ignorant of Satan’s devices. One of the tragedies of our Continuing churches is the disproportionate number of people, in far too many cases even of clergy, who have proved themselves ignorant of Satan’s devices. Instead of looking like the powerful Apostles on the Day of Pentecost and after, some of them approached God’s altar the same way the pre-Pentecost Apostles sat at table, arguing over which should be accounted the greatest - who might have the purplest shirt and the mightiest miter. Satan desired to have them also, to sift them as wheat. Thank God for all of the individuals, all of those addressed as “thee,” for whom Christ Himself interceded, whose faith did not fail, and who, to this day, strengthen their brethren.

          We cannot afford the luxury of ignorance about Satan’s devices. He still goes about as a roaring lion, and it takes real humility to resist him. It takes, also, steadfastness in the faith. Some things never change, so it is up to us to learn wisdom. Humble yourselves, and also be steadfast in the faith.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saint Peter June 29

Acts 12:1-11 * Matt. 16:13-19
One of the marks of Divine Inspiration is the honesty of scripture concerning the heroes of our Faith. Instead of the sort of whitewashing that appears in folk legends, like George Washington and the cherry tree, we see real human beings who fall, get up again, and receive the grace of God. We see St. Paul calling himself the chief of sinners, and the least of the apostles because he had persecuted the Church before his conversion. We see the confusion and misunderstanding of the apostles, their lack of faith when they could not drive the demon out of the boy, so that Jesus had to do it himself. So too the Old Testament, where we see the faults of Moses himself, losing patience and striking the rock twice. The sins of David are recorded, and the pain he expressed as he repented and wrote the fifty-first Psalm. We see the sins of Solomon, and indeed, of the whole nation of Israel, telling on itself by preserving the words of the prophets.

So, when we see the ministry of St. Peter in the Book of Acts, and how much he begins to resemble Jesus himself, it is only after the Gospels in which we have seen him fall, crash into the cliff, and then repent. He denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed, and he repented with bitter weeping and tears. This should comfort all of us, because the story demonstrates the mercy of God, the grace of God and the power of God.

It demonstrates the mercy of God, because Peter was forgiven. It demonstrates the grace of God because Peter was restored and transformed. It demonstrates the power of God, because Peter fulfilled the ministry to which he had been called.

"The gifts and callings of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29) St. Paul wrote those words in a long text about why God has not cast away his people Israel (to this day), and grafts back into the tree every branch that abides not still in unbelief. The gifts (χάρισμα, charisma) and calling (κλῆσις, klēsis) given to Peter follow the same general pattern, as do all gifts and callings, including those that come through the means of indelible sacraments.

The Lord called the restoration of Peter his "conversion." Hear these words from the Gospel of St. Luke: 

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."  (Luke 22:31-34)

The word "conversion" does not mean that you change your religious affiliation, and it simply does not mean that you leave one part of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church for another. It means that you are turning away from sin, unbelief and weakness; that is, turning to God, who alone gives holiness, faith and power. In the case of Peter, he turned from the weakness of confidence in his own strength, so that he could be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

"Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." Simon Peter was confident in the flesh, in his own estimation of himself, of some greatness of love and courage; and this self-confidence blinded him to the truth about himself. This brings us to today's Gospel. For, shortly after Peter declares the truth, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," and is told that he is blessed for the revelation given to him, what immediately follows comes across as a shock, a story of just how complicated a bag of walking contradictions one man can be.

"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. " 

This is the same Simon Peter to whom the keys of the kingdom of Heaven had just been handed, praised by God himself, the Lord Jesus, for receiving the truth that the Father had granted to him. Then suddenly he is called "Satan," that is an adversary; the words he had previously spoken were from God's own revelation to him, and then his words came from the Devil and from the flesh; from Satan and from "the things of men"; that is, fallen sinful men who live for gratification and survival, knowing nothing higher and better.

How can this be? The same man, within seconds, is both the blessed rock upon whom Jesus will build His Church that conquers the very gates of Hell, and then corrected with the most sharp and painful words Christ ever spoke to any disciple other than Judas. What is even more astonishing is this: Jesus had spoken highly of Peter's faith, his willingness to hear from the Father, and told of the future place he would have in God's work to build the Church, even though he knew that Simon yet possessed the kind of flaw that would lead to his next statement.

The key to understanding why the apparent contradiction did not confound Jesus is found in these words: "Upon this rock I will build my Church." The faith that God has is faith in Himself. Jesus Christ builds His Church, and nothing will stop Him from kicking in the gates of Hell through His Church. He first binds the strong man, and then plunders his goods. He it is that leads His Church terrible as an army with banners when it assails the gates and defeats the enemy. We may think it is our efforts, gifts or talents that build the Church. But, Jesus Christ builds His Church Himself, and gives us the wonderful privilege of being a part of His work. Jesus was not placing his faith in Peter's ability, or even in his faithfulness. The Lord knew what lay ahead, as St. John wrote, "But Jesus ... knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." (John 2:24, 25)

Jesus knew what was in Peter. Jesus knows what is in me. He knows what is in you.

He knows whether the deposit of rich faith is in a person's heart, and if it is there, He knows that after falling his servant will stand up again; that, after crashing against reality His servant will be converted. He knows that His true servant will always convert, always turn ever more and more to his Lord, no matter how hard his fall may have been. Eventually, the servant will be like his Lord, the disciple like his Master. He praised the faith of Peter, and the ears that Peter had, for they were ears to hear. Because of that true faith, Jesus could predict a time when this man would unlock the Church of God to the Jewish people, to Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, making use in this world of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; that Peter would become the rock upon which He, Christ, would build His Church. Peter would, as Jesus commanded, strengthen his brethren, acting as the obvious leader in the earliest days of their ministry after Pentecost. This was also in line with what Jesus had said to them all: "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."(Matt. 18:18, "Ye," a form of "you," is always plural)

The Simon Peter we see in the Book of Acts is not the same man anymore, except for the richness of his faith and his ears to hear. And, even that is greater than before. After seeing his Master risen from the dead, and then after being filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, this servant was like his Lord, this disciple was like his Master. No longer did he boast confidently, "I am ready to go with thee to prison and to death." Instead of confidence in the flesh he truly had power from the Holy Spirit. He did follow his Lord, eventually even to his own cross, nailed upside down on Vatican Hill in Rome to die as a martyr.

Peter began his relationship with the Lord, after an initial introduction, with words of fear: After the miracle of the great catch of fish "he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. " (Luke 5:8) The Lord responded with a call to ministry: "And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. " (v.10) Years later Peter had denied the Lord out of fear for his own life, that same fleshly concern that earlier had prompted him to try to persuade Jesus away from His cross, in those words we heard for which Jesus rebuked him. But, with bitter crying and tears he turned; he was converted.

Peter's life demonstrates God's mercy, God's grace and God's forgiveness.

In the last chapter of the Gospel of John, the Risen Lord Jesus Christ gives Peter the chance to affirm his love for Him three times, three affirmations to cleanse his heart of the three denials. Three affirmations, as Jesus demonstrates the heart of pastoral ministry in healing Peter's agony, providing a genuine penance to help His servant refocus his attention on his Lord, and express his love .

"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)

The Lord began their time together by answering Peter's fear with the call to catch men, and now He heals Peter's inner suffering with the call to feed His sheep. Not only does Jesus forgive, but He calls him to work. This was a gift to this man, and it was the gift of this servant to every generation of the Church that would follow.

I know that many times I have failed Christ my Lord, and you know in your heart that you have failed him too. But, you and I know also that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Like Peter, you and I have heard this from the Father, for no one comes to the Son unless the Father draw him (John 6:44). By the Holy Spirit, the Father told you that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. And, He is the one who told me that. Whatever process He used, whatever faithful Christians who declared the Gospel to you and taught you, be sure of this. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, you have heard from the Father. This is the rich deposit of faith that God Himself has invested in you. This is why you have been converted, are being converted, and will be converted. This is why you may strengthen your brethren.

Peter is a demonstration of God's mercy, shown by Jesus who gives him the chance to make his three affirmations of love. Peter is a demonstration of God's grace, because he was restored and resumed his place to receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Peter is a demonstration of God's power, because he did open the kingdom of heaven with the keys, become like his Master in going about teaching and healing and building the Church, and finally, without any fear of death, going himself to his own cross to die in victory as a martyr.

The story of Peter's whole life is summarized in these words: Jesus is t
he Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Friday, June 20, 2014