Loving the Lord Agapically like Peter, Paul and Rita, Seventh Friday of Easter, May 22, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, New York, NY
Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia
May 22, 2015
Acts 25:13-21, Ps 103, Jn 21:15-19


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • We are quickly approaching the end of the Easter Season. The Church wants to sum up what our principal resolution ought to be after this 50 day joy-filled retreat, how the Holy Spirit wants to help us to live in Ordinary Time which is the time of continual Pentecost.
  • Jesus’ dialogue with Peter is a dialogue about restoring Peter to confidence that he can love him agapically, in the same total self-sacrificial love with which Jesus loved him. Peter had promised this during the Last Supper only to fail three times. Now Jesus was challenging him to do so, to love him more than as a friend. When Peter demurred, Jesus at the end of the dialogue gave his great prophecy of how Peter would be crucified, which is what the Greek idiom stretch out your hands means.
  • Jesus also describes for Peter how he would lay down his life for him ordinarily: through his love for others, through feeding his sheep, feeding his lambs, tending his sheep. His love for Jesus would be shown in his love for others. And it’s by constantly laying down our lives, sacrificing ourselves, dying to ourselves for God and others in little things that we become strong and capable of doing so in big.
  • This is what Peter did. This is what St. Paul did. This is what Archbishop Oscar Romeo, who will be beatified tomorrow did. This is what St. Rita of Cascia did.
  • School of sacrificial love is the Mass. We enter into Jesus’ agapic love and are not only told to do this in memory of him but are helped from the inside. This is what the Holy Spirit does. We recall that Jesus’ dialogue with Peter happened before Pentecost. After Pentecost, Peter, strengthened from on high by the Holy Spirit, fearlessly announced Jesus, suffering scourgings and threats as he continued to feed Christ’s sheep and lambs. The same Holy Spirit who came upon him comes upon us in the perpetual Pentecost of the Mass. Let us receive this nourishment and like Peter go out to love Him in others above all.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 ACTS 25:13B-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea
on a visit to Festus.
Since they spent several days there,
Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying,
“There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews
brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
I answered them that it was not Roman practice
to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers
and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
So when they came together here, I made no delay;
the next day I took my seat on the tribunal
and ordered the man to be brought in.
His accusers stood around him,
but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.
Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion
and about a certain Jesus who had died
but who Paul claimed was alive.
Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy,
I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem
and there stand trial on these charges.
And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody
for the Emperor’s decision,
I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20AB

R. (19a) The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
R. Alleluia.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 14:26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”