Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41
When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” The four living creatures answered, “Amen,”
and the elders fell down and worshiped.
At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus 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.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus 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.”
During this time of Easter, the readings tell us over and over about the Lord Jesus and his rising from the dead and his appearing to his followers. Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the preaching of Jesus’ followers and how they simply could not keep quiet about what had happened. Those who follow the Lord Jesus often find that they cannot be silent about what He had done in their lives, even today. Like the early disciples, we Christians often talk among ourselves about the ways that Jesus has changed our lives.
The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, takes us to heaven and gives witness that even in heaven, there is praise of the Risen Lord. It is as if heaven reflects back to us what has happened here on earth when Jesus rises from the dead. Probably most of us don’t think about heaven in this way. We just see heaven as our ultimate goal without reflecting much on what it will be like. When we do reflect, we understand that none of us really knows anything about heaven other than that we will be with our Lord.
We can understand, however, that heaven and being with the Lord will be about living forever in these great mysteries of our faith.
The Gospel today brings us back to the appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection. There seem to be two important aspects of this particular Gospel passage. First, even though the followers of Jesus recognize him, they are still a bit unsure that it is truly the Lord. Second, Jesus invites Peter to repent of his three denials by confessing his love for the Lord three times.
Like us, these early followers of Jesus both believe and have doubts at the same time. The challenge for us today is to continue to believe that Jesus is present in his Church. In so many ways it is easier to live at the level of doubt and to reject the Church. It is an enormous challenge to see the present of Jesus Christ at work in His Church, bringing holiness and love to our world. This is always the challenge of believing in the Incarnation of our Lord.
Today we face the same challenges as the early Christians: we believe in Jesus but have our doubts that He is present in the Catholic Church. It is the Lord Himself who invites us to believe in His Church. Let us go forward with faith and confidence. Let us follow the Lord.+
So true! We believe but with some doubt in the tiny corner of our mind! It is hard to fathom a real heaven and the real presence of God.
Perhaps there are Catholics who do not find it easier to live at the level of doubt, Catholics who once rejected Christ and the Church for a time, and then saw what horror and unhappiness such a rejection can produce in their lives.