3rd Sunday of Easter (C)


“It is difficult to forgive,” writes Father Hawkswell. “However, it can be equally difficult to accept forgiveness – from others or from God. It takes humility.” (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Bloom Chama Chua Cummins Fleming Hawkswell Holsington
Kavanaugh Lane Langeh Lawrence McKinnon Pavone Pellegrino
Powell Schuster Senior Smiga Terra Turner Wester

Featured Homilies


Two Charcoal Fires



There are two charcoal fires in the New Testament. One of them is in the gospel we just heard. This is one of my favorite scenes in the whole of scripture: the risen Christ having breakfast at the shore with his friends – brunch on the beach with Jesus – sounds good to me!… Jesus turns to Simon Peter and asks him,  “Do you love me?” What a question to hear from the lips of Jesus… “Do you love me?” And as soon as it’s asked, I’m sure Peter remembers the other charcoal fire.

Do you remember that other fire? You heard about it on Palm Sunday and Good Friday: a fire in the courtyard of the high priest, on a Thursday night, a fire at which Peter warmed himself in the chill of the evening air – while Jesus was being held for questioning. And by the light of that fire three different people asked Peter another question: “Aren’t you one of his followers?” And, in reply, Peter, three times, denied even knowing Jesus.




Accepting Second Best


Three times in today’s Gospel Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  And three times Peter responds, “Lord you know I love you.”  But what we cannot hear in our English translation is that two different words are being used here for love.  Basically what Jesus is asking of Peter is the highest form of love, agape.  But what Peter is offering in return is ordinary human love, philia.  If I was going to push this translation to catch this nuance it would go something like this.  Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me with the highest form of love?”  And Peter responds, “Lord I love you with ordinary love.”  Disappointed Jesus tries a second time.  “Simon, son of John, do you love me with the highest form of love. Peter responds again, “Lord, I love you with ordinary love.”  By this time it has become clear to Jesus that although he is asking the highest form of love from Peter what Peter is offering in return is only ordinary love.  This sets the context for the important lesson that is present in this Gospel.  Jesus asks a third time, and this time he does not use the word agape.  This time he uses Peter’s word for love.  A third time Jesus says, “Simon, son of John, so you love me with ordinary love?” And Peter says, “Lord you know all things, you know that’s the way I love you.”  Then Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”


Tying It Together

| 2019
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

Three parts to the story: The miraculous draft of fish, Jesus asking Peter if he loves him, and then the odd prophecy of his death.

I assume that this passage was aimed at readers who knew how St Peter had died, but there must have been a time when these words of Christ were remembered, not least by St Peter himself, before his death. The words are not wrong. They did not mislead Peter about his death. Instead they speak of the deeper meaning of his death, and all death. We may wish to continue forever, speaking, acting, making, sharing life, and being part of this world. Yet all lives come to an end. The depiction of the martyrdom of St Peter as if it were the work of carers, who look after an old man, speaks of the true purpose of God. He it is who binds us up, takes away our freedom, and wraps us up for the new life. If we live in faith and hope, then no matter who our death comes to us, sudden or not, peaceful, or violent, understood or while we are unaware, that death will give glory to God. Meanwhile, come and follow him.


Love Heals and Challenges

| 2003

With our love for God egging us on, we can overcome everything.

Note that throughout the entire episode, Jesus did not bother with Peter’s past failures. Why? Because for Jesus love is not only forward looking but also constantly challenges the person to outdo himself.

The dialogue also expresses what being a Christian is all about. If we only bother to listen, Jesus constantly asks us the question, “Do you love me more than these?” Given this, do we like Peter answer “yes” despite all our inadequacies and sins? Or rather, in spite of them as they will be with us for the rest of our life? We should. And when we do so wholeheartedly, we will discover that after our every “yes,” Jesus will continue to invite us to follow Him more closely until the time comes when we do so not out of a moment’s impulse but out of love — as Peter did till his martyrdom.


First Priority

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2016

Bottom line: Let’s focus on the first thing God wants from us: to lift up Jesus.

For almost a year we have asked this question: What is God’s purpose – his plan – for St. Mary of the Valley? This question has plunged us into a process of prayer, discernment, listening, study, surveys, interviews and research. I have found the process helpful.

It may take the rest of my days to assimilate it all. I do want to continue to ask God’s will not only for our parish, but personally. Lord, what is your purpose for me? What is your plan for today? A lot of time I spin my wheels like the disciples fishing all night, catching nothing. Even if I often feel frustrated what matters is being attentive to that one thing Jesus wants me to do today, now. “Cast the net.”

Jesus wants you and me to do something. This discernment has led to three priorities. I will talk this weekend about the first priority, especially how it relates to to the Scripture readings. Without any more fanfare then, here’s our top priority: Lift up Jesus!

As a priest I am conscious of lifting up Jesus literally during the Mass. The paten – that metal plate or bowl – contains the Consecrated Hosts: the bread that has become the Body, Blood and Soul of Jesus, his full humanity and divinity. The chalice holds the wine that has become his Blood, likewise Jesus in his entirety. At Mass then I lift up Jesus. You, together with me, lift up Jesus.

We see it poetically in the reading from Revelation. The saints and angels around the throne cry out, “worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” The Lamb is Jesus, s

RELATED HOMILIES | 2022 Homilies


Faith Rises from the Ashes of Doubt



St Peter has forgotten that no fishing trip is complete unless you bring along your best bait. In this case, it is Our Lord Jesus Christ, without whom all our projects come to naught. Just as it was in his first meeting with the Lord in the Gospel of St Luke, Peter and his companions had no success catching fish, until Jesus turned up and redeemed the situation. That’s déjà vu for you. But not only was the project redeemed. It was Peter, the failed Apostle, that had to be redeemed and restored. In this sense, the Lord proves that he is not just the Best Bait. He is a better fisherman. He not only facilitates the enormous catch on these two accounts but now begins to model what it means to be a fisher of men, a role that had already been entrusted to his disciples, but now reinforced. Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd in search of the lost, and when found, the lost sheep would now be transformed into a shepherd in his turn….

This story therefore brings together two important roles and important aspects of the Petrine ministry and the mission of the Church – evangelisation and pastoral care. If fishing is symbolic of the Apostles’ and Church’s effort to evangelise, then tending one’s sheep would certainly point to pastoral oversight over those entrusted into their care. In this age of the new evangelisation, the planting of the seed of faith and its nurturing overlap. Evangelisation and pastoral care often become one.



Peter and John, Realism and Idealism



John and Peter, Peter and John. One the ideal disciple, the other a disciple constantly at war with his own humanity. John was the ideal disciple. He was the only one of the twelve who did not desert the Lord at the Passion. He was the first of the Twelve to believe in the Resurrection. He was loving, trusting and faithful. Peter was the disciple who said one thing and then did another. He was full of bravado until his fear kicked in. He was a leader, but a flawed leader. Still, he made the decision to turn back to the Lord and was willing to accept all sorts of hardship and death to proclaim the Gospel. Peter would eventually journey to Rome, the center of the then known world. He would be arrested there and killed. Tradition says that Peter was crucified with his head down. George Weigel in his Letters to a Young Catholic suggests that the huge obelisk that stands in St. Peters Square used to be in the center of the Nero’s Circus where the early Christians were tortured to death. It could very well have been the last thing that Peter focused on before his death. It is the first thing that a new pope sees when he assumes the Chair of Peter and greets the people on the balcony of the Basilica of St. Peters in the Vatican.



Jesus Forgives Peter and Restores Him

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2008

Christ’s Sacred Heart which raised up Thomas from despair to faith is ready to raise up each of us from any despair we may have to Christian hope. Christ invites each of us, “bring your hand and put it into my side” (John 20:27) Christ invites each of us to draw near his Sacred Heart, to allow our hearts become hearts of love. As we look on Christ’s Sacred Heart we see that Christ’s love forgives us, heals us and restores us. The physical wound in Christ’s side is only the gateway to the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. In Christ’s Sacred Heart we see the love of Jesus for us and we respond, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)



Down from the Heights to Everyday Life



Humans are “amphibian,” says C.S. Lewis: spirit and animal. As spirits, we belong to the eternal world and can direct our souls to the unchangeable God, but as animals, we inhabit time, with our bodies, passions, and imaginations in continuous change. Our nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is “undulation,” Lewis says: a series of “troughs and peaks.” We see it all through our lives: in our affections, physical appetites, and interest in our work. In our spiritual lives, we sometimes wonder why God does not make himself known to us more convincingly. Surely he can make himself present to us unmistakably! Yes; but God wants us to love him as he loves us, and no lover demands proof. What would happen to your relationship with your spouse if he or she demanded continual, indisputable, irresistible proof of your fidelity?


Peter Accepts Love


The Lord feeds his friends and then he has this wonderful exchange with Peter.  Three times, the Lord asks Peter; do you love me?  Three times Peter responds “yes” and the Lord instructs him to feed and tend his sheep.

Why did the Lord give this command and why specifically did he entrust Peter with this task?  Peter had denied the Lord, Peter had run away and now the Lord is entrusting his very flock to this man?  What had changed?  What had changed is that now Peter had accepted love.  Where before he had relied on his own strength of faith – Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death. (Lk. 22:33) – now Peter, after his denial, can only hold on to the love of the Lord.  Peter’s heart, healed by the light of Easter, had come to truly understand and grasp the words of that beautiful Lenten hymn; What wondrous love is this?  Peter had accepted the love of the risen Lord and now Christ says to him; feed my sheep.



HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

Pause a moment. There is something great stirring here. Have you or I ever uttered those words to another? “Do you love me?” Most of us, once beyond childhood, are terrified at the thought of asking such a question. It is hard enough for some men to tell the beloved she is loved. But it can be excruciating to ask, “Do you love me?” How often have teenagers, sometimes eager to profess their love, been found to ask whether they are loved. To ask it. Has one ever asked a friend as much? A brother or sister?

I could think of scores of questions Christ might have put to Peter. Do you promise never to betray me again? Will you finally be more modest in your claims? Do you now, at long last, after having denied me, amend your life? Will you please modulate your vaunted professions of faith? Now do you see why I had to wash your feet? Well, big-mouth?



Receive God’s Word



The Lord calls to each of us, even in our weakness and sin to love our God above all else. We may ask if we willingly run to the Lord like Peter did, even when faced with setbacks, disappointments and trials. We need to keep in mind that the Lord is always ready to renew us in faith and give us fresh hope in all the challenges of life.

Do I recognize that I am being asked to open my heart and mind to receive God’s word, to act upon it, and to be Christ’s follower for the rest of my life? Are we all ready and willing to do so? Nothing but our own free will can keep us from God’s love for us and our loving God in return.

The great gift being offered to us is of infinite value. God loved us first and our love for God is but a response to infinite mercy and grace. So we might ask in this Paschaltide: do I allow God’s love to change my heart? Do I want everything that is unloving, unkind, ungrateful, unholy and not of God’s will, to be removed from my life? It won’t happen in a day, of course, but we must slowly, each day, work in cooperation with God toward the transformed of our existence, to belonging completely to God without reserve or regret.


Leadership and Responsibility



In today’s Gospel, Jesus moved beyond that mission to the world of forgiveness, entrusted to the whole group of disciples, to address the issue of individual responsibility within the community. He commissioned Peter personally to feed the members of the flock of believers. This raises the issue of ministry and charisms within the community itself.

Through the brief dialogue between Peter and the risen Jesus, Jesus reminded him clearly of his weakness and sin. But his repeated questioning gave Peter the opportunity to realize that, along with his sin and, in a certain sense, coexisting with his sin, he also undeniably loved Jesus. Only after Peter had recognized both his weakness and his love did Jesus confide to him the responsibility for the ongoing protection and nourishment of the community. Forgiven sinner himself, he was in position to offer hope to other fellow sinners – not from any pedestal but from their shared fragility. He could be trusted with the ministry of service within the believing community. All ministries within the faith community are acts of service by sinners for fellow sinners


Obedience to God



Today’s readings make it clear that Jesus’ resurrection does not only bring life to him. Rather, it begins a process whereby, through our obedience, life comes to us and extends through us to all the world…

This overarching theme of obedience that leads to life contrasts powerfully with the attitude of the culture of death that real freedom consists in forging our own way through life, insisting on our own choices, and arranging both our private lives and public policies in such a way that protects absolute, or nearly-absolute, personal autonomy. That is simply not the way of salvation or even of earthly happiness. Instead, the only way to both is a resounding “Yes” to life, in obedience to the one who conquers death and gives life abundantly.



You Know That I Love You


Our Lord asks Peter a question—The Question, actually—the question that makes Peter squirm like a worm on a hot rock: “Simon [Peter], son of John, do you love me more than these?”* We can’t help but wonder what went through Peter’s head at hearing this question. He must’ve flashed back to the time Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” And he answered, “You are the Son of the living God.” He must’ve remembered rebuking Jesus when the Lord revealed that he would die in Jerusalem, and Jesus yelling at him, “Get behind me, Satan!” He must’ve remembered Jesus’ prophecy that he would deny knowing him three times in the Garden. That memory must’ve made him blush in shame. His betrayal. Fleeing arrest. Outright lying. Now, the Risen Lord sits with him on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias and asks, “Simon [Peter], do you love me more than these?” Of course, Peter says that he loves the Lord. Could he say anything else? Truly, sitting there in the presence of the Risen Lord, could he confess to any other passion but the love btw friends, friends who willingly die for one another? “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

The Remedy for the Church these Days… Fishing!


Peter’s boat, sailing over the waters of time. Jesus is at the shore, calling to mind the end of time, our heavenly destination. Jesus, looking from heaven, sees the Church not being very successful in its evangelization, not catching many fish. Notice that it is dark when this happens. The darkness calls to mind the sinfulness of its evangelizers. I think this is a helpful commentary. When the light appears at dawn, the light of the world is standing at the shore. Jesus teaches his disciples how to evangelize and where to put their nets. They catch so many fish that they have trouble pulling the nets to the heavenly shore. Interestingly enough, a number of scripture scholars argue that the 153 fish mentioned in the Gospel represent the number of known species of fish at the time of its writing. That the nets do not tear suggests that the saving nets of the Church can hold every soul in the world without tearing. This is quite the challenge the Lord offers the Apostles in the Gospel reading this weekend. And, I believe this challenge is relevant for us today.


Solidarity in the Risen Christ



Solidarity is a powerful force. It is all the more powerful if people are united for something that is true and good and just. People in solidarity with one another work together. They support one another. And if their cause is just, they can almost always triumph.

The Solidarity Movement in Poland started in the 1980’s. Labor Union members aligned against the Communist dictatorship – and won! In the 1990’s it brought about freedom from Russian control altogether.

A present day example of solidarity is the resistance of the people of Ukraine against Vladimir Putin. Ultimately, the Ukrainians will prevail, even though Putin takes over the country. Because, even if seemingly defeated, that solidarity will never be destroyed – because its cause is right and true and just!


A Declaration of Love to Jesus Necessitates Action in Service

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

Even though we have celebrated Easter Sunday, we get a chance to examine whether we live Easter lives each weekend. We do this by examining what we do with life’s disappointments. Anytime we believe that God hasn’t lived up to the promises that we’ve been given, do we go back to the old way, acting as if we are in control of life, or do we move forward one step at a time and trust that God’s promises are true?

If you have betrayed Jesus like Peter did and feel any sense of shame or disappointment in yourself, can you hear Jesus asking you if you love Him? He isn’t berating you or chastising you, but asking the most critical question: Do you love Him? If you answer yes, is it more than just words? Does your life have that Easter flavor to it? Is the direction of your life steady in hope, or is it a stop-and-start life depending on whether life is going the way you want it to go?


The Two Minds of Thomas

by Deacon Jerome Buhman| 2022
Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Thomas evidently was a twin — so who was Thomas’ twin? 

Why would Thomas, known as Doubting Thomas, be called a twin? He really could be a physical twin or . . . the answer could lie in the word “doubt.” You see, doubt means to be uncertain about two choices or, even more literally, it means “to be of two minds.” So, Thomas was of two minds — one might say he was a twin within himself — and on more levels than one, for he had more than one choice to make in the days following Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection. To help distinguish the respective inner conflicts Thomas went through, I’ll be referring to Thomas A and Thomas B. And each of these Thomases has a choice in today’s Gospel. Let’s start with Thomas A.


A Good Shepherd who Walks Along



The 4th Sunday of Easter is called the Good Shepherd Sunday during which we read from the 10th chapter of St John’s Gospel where Jesus refers to himself as Good shepherd. By the image of the “shepherd” what message does Jesus want to communicate to us? On this Sunday we are invited to pray for vocations. But for which vocations should we be praying for?

The shepherd accompanies his sheep to the pastures where they can eat and, possibly also, drink. He protects them from the attacks of thieves and predators. A bad shepherd is one who falls short in these responsibilities. Instead of using the battle to spur on his animals, he uses it to inflict pain; instead of being vigilant he becomes distracted by his personal preoccupations -leaving some of the sheep straying away where they are exposed to danger. And at the appearance of danger, instead of thinking of the security of animals, he runs away for his safety leaving them at mercy of enemies. This the reproach you hear against shepherds in the Old Testament.


The Church Community as the Central Place for God’s Mercy


Claret Media Cameroon


Our Church Community remains the cadre in which this mercy of God is nurtured, catered for and is dispensed to all. As members of one family and community, the Church, may we implore at all times the Mercy of God for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. May Mary, Mother of Mercy and Saint Faustina help us to always have trust in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. May we fix our Regard on the Merciful Jesus and repeat with devotion: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.


Abuse of Humor




Humor makes people feel good, but like any other gift, we sometimes abuse it. When I started college, I used sarcasm a lot, trying to be funny. Once when I said something that was probably more hurtful than funny to one friend, another friend challenged me on it. He said, “Sarcasm is not funny. You’re better than that. Don’t use it.” At the time, I thought he was wrong, and I didn’t know how to be funny in a different way. Now I find that the humor people like best is making fun of yourself, not of someone else. I’m still guilty of using the wrong kind of humor in certain situations, so I am not always the best model. But it worries me when I hear engaged couples or married couples use sarcasm or putdowns against each other as a way of being funny. On one hand, it’s a compliment to your partner if you can say something outlandish, and they know you don’t mean it. On the other hand, why not say more often something you do mean and compliment your partner to strengthen the relationship positively? Why not laugh a little more at yourself? The same temptation to put someone down occurs within groups. We sometimes have our strongest arguments with people who are our tightest allies. We sometimes complain the loudest about people with whom we hold high values: other members of the family, neighbors on our block, other Americans, other Catholics. Infighting is usually not helpful, and it can obscure the many values that people hold in common.

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