The third Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2022
“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.”
– Acts 5:40b-41
Brothers and Sisters,
“Who’s on first?” The classic banter of Abbot and Costello is one of my favorites. While Abbott tries to name the various players on his baseball team, Costello is left bewildered. The ridiculous names, of course, are only meant to confuse: “Who,” “What,” and “I don’t know” to start. If you have not heard this routine or shared it with the next generation in the family, search for it online (there are various audio and video recordings).
The disciples are left quite bewildered after Jesus’ death. Even with his Resurrection, they do not have clear guidance or direction. Not surprisingly, Peter rallies some of the crew and returns to a familiar activity: fishing. After a dismal night without catching anything, Jesus approaches, encouraging them to cast their net once more – reminding them and us of the first time he called Peter. And the resulting catch of fish is once again miraculous.
After ensuring the disciples are fed, Jesus has a conversation with Peter – which in the original language of the Scriptures sounds like the “Who’s on first” routine. We see it played out in this dialogue for those who have studied the many Greek words for love. He asks the question the first two times; Jesus uses the Greek agape, and Peter responds with philia. It might sound more like this in English: Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me with the depth of love that I gave my life for the world?” Peter’s response, “You know I love as a best friend!” On the third time, as Peter is either not fully understanding the difference or not ready to commit, Jesus lowers the bar of his request: “Peter, do you love in a way that you will put me first?” Exasperated, Peter affirms this brotherly love.
Jesus knew that Peter still had to grow in love so he could love him with that all-encompassing agape and in turn, in his service, love those Jesus entrusted to his care. In Acts, we see that love lived out as the disciples learn to really obey the Lord. Obedience is an underappreciated virtue in the world today. To obey another is rooted in listening, with a sincere desire to understand what is being asked. And like the disciples, sometimes we might need to retreat to a place where we are comfortable to discern, in obedience, what the Lord is asking of us. Trust that He will draw near and will illuminate the path forward to which he calls each of us through the Spirit.
Please remember in your prayers the workers of the former Sheraton Columbia. During the pandemic, many workers were laid off. Now, reopening as the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel, the owner has resolved not to recall the workforce, as they earned a living wage through the representation of their union. The Maryland Catholic Labor Network is discouraging the use of the hotel for receptions or events until the owner rectifies this injustice. Check out the catholiclabor.org or directly at the article by visiting here, Right to Recall for Howard County Hotel Workers.
In the Risen Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett