A homily by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
In today’s Gospel (Jn 21: 15 – 19), Peter is given a task suitable for him. He is to become a shepherd. Jesus knows him inside and out. He knows his contrition for the sin he committed. He has healed him of shame and cowardice. Now he is charged to protect his flock, his lambs, his shearlings, to feed them.
Could Jesus give greater trust in the reality of Peter’s love, Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you. Today, Francis is the Successor of Peter and bears this same responsibility. Repeatedly he has said that this responsibility does not come as a call to heroism, but is largely a matter of everyday courtesy and kindness.
Why are we, members of Christ’s Body, His Church on earth so wrapped in smoke? Several days after the white smoke disappeared from the Sistine Chapel, the new Pope declared: Preachers should abstain from using the word ‘love’ in their homilies. Pope Francis explained: I do not have anything against the reality. It is the word itself that is so abused.
In Australia in the 70s, there was a pet food called ‘Love’ with the sickening slogan: Give your pet ‘Love’.
We call all think of a dozen or more synonyms in as many seconds. Love is affection, friendship, service, intimacy, forgiveness, acceptance, listening, welcoming, embracing, empathy, recognition. All of these and more.
But above all, Love is the divine nature. What it is can best be described in poetry. Prose is limited to what love does. Remember the words of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
God has chosen us for this tremendous destiny of love, and if the wonder and joy of it is ours, so too is the responsibility. The responsibility to prove to those who are still unaware that Christ is Risen from the dead, and at the same time, He is in the world now.
To prove that Christ is in the world, we have to prove it by the example of our own lives. For thus will they know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.
We cannot do this without prayerful imitation of Christ’s way with other people, without surrendering our lives so totally to Him that He may act through us, and gradually obliterate our selfishness and stupidity by his love and patience for us. Do you love?.....feed my sheep.