Category Archives: Apostles

Third Sunday of Easter: The Apostle Peter Teaches Us Lessons From Failure

Peter teaches us that failure is an opportunity to love better and stronger.  By beginning again and again, failure is an opportunity to love God and neighbor even more.  When you can truly love, you will never fear failure and sin, because failure and sin become opportunities to love even more intensely.

Every sin is a failure.  However, there is a lot that we can learn every time we say no to the Lord.  Every moment of sin is a moment to love more.  During the Last Supper, Peter assured the Lord of his love.  Nevertheless, Jesus predicted that he would deny him three times.

Sometimes pride causes us to sin.  We feel confident that we can handle certain situations.  Pride can even blind us from the memory of past experiences, and we fall in the same hole over and over again.

In this Sunday’s gospel narrative, Jesus asks Peter three times if he really does love him.  The triple profession of love that Peter makes after the Resurrection overcomes his threefold denial before the Passion.

When Peter denied the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that he went away and wept bitterly.  Through repentance and compunction, Peter was able to mistrust his own abilities and put his trust entirely in the Lord.  He discovered that left to his own abilities, he would continue to fall.  However, united to the power of God’s grace, he could overcome himself and persevere in fidelity.

There must be a reason why Jesus chose Peter to be the head of his Apostles.  He trusted Peter and knew that he would return loving even more.  Perfect people do not exist.  God always chooses the weak in order to bring about great tasks.  People who recognize their weaknesses, sinfulness and limitations are humble.  Humility allows them to rely on God’s grace and not on their own capabilities.  The arrogant do not allow God to work in their lives, or through them, in the lives of others.

“Peter, do you love me”?  Peter was asked this question three times.  Three times Peter assured the Lord that he loved him, and three times Peter was commissioned to show his love by feeding the flock.  This reminds us that love is not comprised of empty promises.  Love is made manifest in giving ourselves to others.

Easter is all about the new way of life called Christianity.  Feeding lambs and feeding sheep means that because of Jesus, we no longer can live for ourselves.   We need to be kind to each other, affirm and encourage one another, serve and forgive one another.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.  Many of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church were at one time great sinners.  Simply consider the sins of David, Magdalen, Paul and Augustine.  Nevertheless, they, like many others, were able to turn their lives around and love even more.

This Sunday’s gospel passage reminds us that our own personal sin is never the end of the story.  Every day God gives us a blank piece of paper to write the history of a new day.

“Peter, do you love me?”  Jesus asks us the same question: Do you love me?  Every day, we have many moments to show Jesus how much we really do love him.

“Peter, do you love me more than these?”  Do you love me more than your possessions?  Do you love me more than your money?  Do you love me more than your house?  Do you love me more than your spouse, your children, your mother and your father?  Do you really love me more than yourself?

Unless we are able to go into the desert, which is a terrible and difficult journey, we will never experience true love.  And why is this true?  This is true because in order to really love the way Jesus call us to love, we must truly die to ourselves.  Only those who are free from any attachment, any obsession and any addiction can truly love.   When you really die to yourself, love possesses you.  When you can truly love, you will never fear failure and sin, because failure and sin become opportunities to love even more intensely.

For all those who call themselves disciples of Jesus, failure is an opportunity to love better and stronger.  By beginning again and again, failure is an opportunity to love God and neighbor even more.

http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=36196

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Doubting Thomas

Thomas is a late bloomer, I guess. A commercial fisherman, he grew up around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came to Capernaum, calls him, and he follows. For three years Thomas follows.

Thomas’s Pessimism and Courage

But Thomas is a pessimist. Some people rejoice to see a glass half full, but Thomas sees it half empty. Oh, he’s full courage, but also possesses a streak of fatalism. Once, when Jesus and his disciples hear about their friend Lazarus’s death near Jerusalem, the center of Jesus’ opposition, Thomas comments darkly, “Yes, let’s go there that we might die with him.” His words are almost prophetic.

Soon, his world falls apart. Thomas sees his Master arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and he flees for his life. On Good Friday he watches at a distance as they spike his Friend to a cross on the Roman killing grounds of Golgotha. As Jesus’ life drains away, so does Thomas’s hope.

Shock and Disbelief

On Saturday he is in shock. On Sunday he is so disillusioned that he doesn’t gather with his fellow disciples for an evening meal. Thomas is dazed, hurt, bitter — and lashing out. Monday morning, the disciples go looking for Thomas and tell him what has happened in his absence.

“Thomas, we were in that upper room where we’d been meeting. We lock the doors for protection. Yet, all of a sudden, Jesus appears. ‘Peace, Shalom,’ he says. Then he shows us his hands. There are jagged holes where the nails had been. He pulls back his tunic and shows us where the spear penetrated his chest. But he isn’t weak or sick or dying. He is alive, raised from the dead!”

Afraid to Believe

“I don’t believe it,” barks Thomas. “I don’t believe a word of it. You’re seeing what you want to see. Jesus is dead. I saw him die, and part of me died with him. But he’s dead, and the sooner you accept that fact, the better off you’ll be. Give it up!”

Peter pleads with him. “Thomas, I saw him myself, I tell you, and he was as real as you are!”

Thomas is cold, with an edge in his voice that cuts like ice. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

But Thomas’s anger cools, and by the next Sunday evening he is eating with his fellow disciples in the same locked room. Suddenly, Jesus stands among them once again and speaks — “Shalom, peace be with you.”

All the blood drains from Thomas’ face. Jesus turns to him and speaks plainly, without any hint of rancor or sarcasm, “Put your finger here, see my hands.” Jesus holds out his scarred hands for him to examine. Thomas recoils. Not out of fear, really, but from a mixture of amazement and revulsion.

Jesus begins to open his outer garment and says, “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

My Lord and My God

Thomas is weeping now and then begins to sob out loud. Jesus reaches out and puts a hand on his shoulder. Then Thomas slips to his knees and says in awe, “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas, “Doubting Thomas,” as he is sometimes called, is the first disciple to put into words the truth that Jesus is both Lord and God. “Doubting Thomas” utters the greatest confession of faith recorded anywhere in the Bible.

Jesus replies, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Preacher in the East

What happens to him? Doubting Thomas does not stay a doubter. When he sees the risen Jesus, all that Jesus has taught over the years now clicks in, and to his death Thomas is an outspoken advocate for his Lord.

Church tradition tells us that he preaches in ancient Babylon, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, where Iraq is today. He travels to Persia, present-day Iran, and continues to win disciples to the Christian faith.

Then he sails south to Malabar on the west coast of India in 52 AD. He preaches, establishes churches, and wins to Christ high caste Brahmins, as well as others. When the Portuguese land in India in the early 1600s, they find a group of Christians there — the Mar Thoma Church established through Thomas’ preaching a millennium and a half before.

Finally, Thomas travels to the east coast of India, preaching relentlessly. He is killed near Mylapore about 72 AD, near present-day Madras. Tradition tells us that he is thrown into a pit, then pierced through with a spear thrown by a Brahmin.

He who had so fervently proclaimed his unbelief carried the Christian message of love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth in his generation.

The Doubter Speaks Today

Thomas would speak to doubters today, to those of us who have seen our hopes and dreams destroyed. Doubting Thomas would tell his story of how Jesus’ life had intercepted his own. He would tell us of his fears and his doubts. And then, with a radiant, joyful face, St. Thomas, Apostle to India, would recount his joy at seeing and knowing the risen Jesus himself. “My Lord and my God!” he would say. “My Lord and my God!”

Source: http://www.leaderu.com/theology/doubting_thomas.html