Grace to you!
Today’s reflection focuses on the kind of commitment required in living the life of the Spirit.
I read with keen interest the Lord’s conversation with Simon Peter as recorded in the Gospel of John 21:15-19. There, the Lord clearly demonstrated the primacy of the authority of Peter as the leader of his Church. For three times, the Lord asked Peter about his love for him. For three times, Peter affirmed his love. Some suggest this is a response to counter the three times Peter denied the Lord during his arrest as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 22:54-62.
It could also be that the Lord wanted the broken and contrite Peter to reclaim his confidence. Being humbled and disappointed for his past, he is given an opportunity, by the one he had denied, to reestablish commitment to fidelity. This is one thing with God in dealing with us. God’s mercy endures forever. The Lord is ever present to pull us up and offer us more opportunities to witness his grace and glory.
I’m particularly touched by the Lord’s invitation to Peter— “Follow me” (Jn 21:19). It is an invitation to leave behind previous shame of betrayal and follow the new path of righteousness the Lord has opened. Sometimes, we get stuck in the past and lose site of the new way the Lord has opened. We’ve got to press on and walk in that new way.
Another way I see the “follow me” is an invitation to take up the cross and follow in the Lord’s footsteps. Yes, this is clear from the context of the text. The Lord goes on to let Peter know the kind of death he would have. His future as the leader of the Universal Church would demand him dying to self and being led to where he would rather not want to go. Martyrdom is implied.
By way of application to us as we continue our Pentecost Novena, not all will have the grace of martyrdom. But every true believer witnesses daily sacrifices and commitments that take a lot from us. Sometimes they become miniature martyrdom—sort of “white martyrdom” (Saint Jerome). This occurs, in part, when we give in to the Lord and not be led by our ego and self-interest. Even in using our gifts, it isn’t always a pleasant experience. The holy way of using our gifts takes a lot from us. It takes us out of our comfort zone. Since the charismatic gifts are for service to others, it requires selflessness to serve in a holy way.
More in the “follow me” experience is the readiness to willingly give up legitimate pleasure for a higher good of service of God and one another. Sometimes, what we want could differ from what the Lord desires of us. Sometimes, the demand of love for one another and true charity requires we leave behind our own interests. This is hard. Not easy for me to do. I guess it may not be easy for you.
So, we need the Spirit that helps us do this. Following the Lord is actually living the life of the Spirit. One passes from just using one’s gifts to “being” the life of one’s gift. The “using” is an activity. The “living,” “being” is a lifestyle. This lifestyle becomes, by the grace of the giver, fruits of what we live because we have become what we do.
Hence, as we focus on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we better know that those gifts are to aid us in becoming true disciples of the Lord. We aren’t mere actors of the Lord’s story in the world’s theater. We are living testimonials of the Risen Lord. Led by the Holy Spirit, we should be the Christ people see today.
Pray: Lord, I welcome the Holy Spirit so I would be totally devoted to you and live in my life what my gifts point to. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Keep praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Easter Week 7: Acts 25:13-21; Jn 21:15-19]
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.