Salmon have a lifespan of three to eight years. Salmon are a kind of “super fish” that can live in both fresh water and salt water, and might travel hundreds or even thousands of miles over a lifetime! Salmon are born in fresh water and most live their adult lives in the ocean. Then they make an incredible upstream journey to spawn (lay eggs) in the same places that they were hatched. That’s really amazing fact. Something similar we see Jesus doing at the lake of Galilee.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the women saying, “Go tell my brethren that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.” It seems that the risen Christ had a specific purpose in seeing His apostles in Galilee. It was there that He had begun his own mission and recruited His Apostles. It was His purpose to confer the Apostolic mission on Peter and the apostles in Galilee. We realize that the risen Jesus was the One who planned and directed the missionary activities of the early Church. We can be certain that the Risen Lord Himself leads and directs his Church today, through the encouragement, guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit, as He did for the Apostles and has done for their successors, down through the ages in their missionary endeavors. It is important for us to realize this fact especially in the light upcoming structural changes according to the Diocesan Pastoral Plan in our diocese.
The second part of the Gospel is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon where Simon is asked three times whether he loves Jesus, and he answers that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus. When we see a job advertised we are asked to submit our résumé. We try to submit an impressive résumé because we know that some of those who submit impressive résumés will be called for an interview. If we are called for the interview, we try to impress during the interview.
What kind of ‘resume’ would you need to have in order to be asked to be the first Pope? What type of questions would you be asked during the interview? Peter was interviewed by Jesus in today’s Gospel and asked three questions, “Do you love me?” His ‘resume’ wasn’t good; he had denied Jesus three times by a charcoal fire on Holy Thursday night. Peter did not find it easy to accept himself after that. When the cock crew later that evening, Peter wept. He realized his failure. He could not cope with it, could not accept it and he wept. He hit rock bottom.
You would not expect Jesus to even consider him for the position of looking after the flock. But Jesus could see his heart and knew he was the man for the job. Why? Because Peter was different to Judas. Peter grew through his mistake whereas Judas allowed his mistake to conquer him. Peter reformed himself after his mistake but Judas was not man enough to reform himself. Peter knew what it was to be human, so too did Judas, but whereas Peter moved on from his sinfulness Judas did not. Three times Peter had denied Jesus but now three times on this Easter day Jesus asks Peter to look after the sheep. Jesus forgave Peter and had confidence in him to make him Pope.
This is the good news for us. Despite our sinfulness Jesus forgives us and has confidence in us. Jesus does not lock us in by mistakes of the past or present. We are given room to outgrow the mistakes of the past.
A well-known speaker began a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. He asked the audience, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He then said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” The hands remained in the air. “Well,” he added, “What if I do this?” He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe. He picked it up, crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still a few hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong! We are special – let us never forget it! This is the lesson of today’s Gospel, which tells us how Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times.