Taste and See: Peter and his preaching

DSC05970.jpgOn the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’

He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.

Acts 2:14,36-41

Easter is about the triumph of love – over sin, death, human frailty.

This is Christ’s triumph and it is Peter’s preaching.

It is blessing for us, and Easter above all the season for us to rejoice in this gift.

St Peter. St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Make us One.

DSC00833 Paul Peter.jpg

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, continues the Church’s reading of Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians.

And – perhaps with a particular importance appropriately for our own times – Paul speaks of the call to unity and common purpose.

That unity is gifted to us in the Good News, and especially in Christ. And it helps us move beyond our tensions.

The image above expresses the unity of the Church – but the Scriptures bear witness to tensions, even violent tensions between Paul, Peter and Jesus, tensions that by the love of God were overcome and out of which grew great cooperation in working for the upbuilding of the Church and the sharing of the Gospel.

Carving. The Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Help us, even more!

St Vasily, MoscowThe Gospel at Mass on Sunday, the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has the Lord calling us to fresh confidence in him, and in the Father.

He also calls us to righteousness, living according to the values of the kingdom. Peter seems to consider this call might be too onerous for him and the apostles. One might consider that he would think it maybe too challenging for ‘the rest’, the ‘everyone’ (else). But, no, self-interest seems to predominate in Peter’s thinking and Peter’s concern!

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

‘Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

Luke 12:32-48

  • What have you been given?
  • What is demanded/expected of you?
  • What do you struggle with? Bring this to the Lord for his consolation and his help.

Pall for the Reliquary of St Vasily the Blessed. St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. (c) 2015, ALlen Morris.

Taste and See: Gathered and missioned

Peter Capernaum

The Gospel for the third Sunday of Easter engages us in a story of reconciliation and healing, drawn from Jesus and shared with Peter, and through Peter shared with the Church.

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

John 21:1-19

 

  • What do you receive from Peter? From the Church?
  • What of God’s gifts and his grace do you share with the world?

Image derived from carving in the Church of Peter’s Primacy, Capernaum, Israel. (c) 2013

 

Speak Lord: My rescuer

Peter savedThe Responsorial Psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, might be heard as coming from the lips of Peter the apostle. From Peter saved and rescued by Jesus in so many ways, not least from his betrayal of his friend when he three times denied even knowing him. In the first reading tomorrow we hear how Peter has grown in faith and trust, able to resist pressure from without: he has gained this courage because of the compassion with which the Lord has shown him again and again. Rescued, saved, Peter praises.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me or Alleluia!

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

Psalm 29:2,4-6,11-13

  • From what has or does the Lord save you?
  • For what do you praises him, and when, and how?

St Peter saved as he sinks beneath the waves. Cathedral of the SPilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Draw us to service

Peter's Primacy

The Gospel for the third Sunday of Easter, in Year C tells of Jesus’ manifesting himself in Galilee, at the lakeside.

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

John 21:1-19

The episode is full of incident: the initial accedie, the miraculous catch; the moment of recognition; the sharing of food; the conversation with Peter about love and service; the prophecy about martyrdom and discipleship. 

In such a passage it is easy to see how through the living word, Christ speaks differently to each one of us, stirring us in one but perhaps not in another incident, and engaging us in different ways in what does strike us. The same Lord speaks to all, but in a different way to each.

What, in particular, attracts your attention? Does it attract or disturb? Why?

Attend to your feelings and reaction. After quietly considering them, bring your thoughts to God in prayer.

Peter’s Primacy (the traditional site of the meal on the lakeshore, Tabgha, Israel). (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: newness

Sarcophagus of Resurrection

Three Gospel readings are provided for use on Easter Day – one reserved for the evening of that day, the story of the journey to Emmaus.

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

The story is filled with detail – the names of the women, their experience, their astonishment and confusioni, the doubt their story met with, and the impetuous running of Peter, (alone, here), to the tomb.

This is no ordinary tale, no ordinary experience. The Resurrection moves the boundaries so far as human living is understood: we are no long as constrained as we thought.

Live love.

Sarcophagus of the Resurrection – sadly not showing the women! Vatican Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: That we may be at peace…

Galilee Polenov

The Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of the Year, and this year, the last Sunday before Lent begins, takes us from Nazareth and Jesus’ troubles, to Galilee and the disciples and their troubles there…

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus, Light of the World, has helped Peter to see his own fallibility and weakness. Peter declares himself a sinful man. But then Peter is rather prone to excitement and perhaps to exaggeration. Maybe he is a sinful man, even more sinful than others; and maybe not. What is clear is that Jesus has presented a challenge and brought a different clarity to Peter, revealed a different horizon for his life than he has known heretofore.

Peter is overwhelmed by the newness, the goodness, the beauty and the truth. And collapses before it all.

Jesus reaches out to him – certainly in his words, but surely in gesture too, raising Peter to his feet: ‘Do not be afraid…’

  • What afears you?What makes you daunted?
  • Spend time with the Lord in quiet prayer asking for the confidence you need to find all things new…

Painting ‘On the Sea of Tiberias’ by Polenov. Tretvakov State Gallery, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Tretyakov State Gallery

Taste and See: Identity and Mission

Peter St Ps, Wolverhampton

The Gospels regularly present us with the fallibility of Peter.

The gospel chosen for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, kept yesterday in England and Wales, presents Peter in a better light.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’

Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Matthew 16:13-19

Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. Quick as a flash Jesus makes a profession of faith and purpose regarding Peter.

Which of them was the most surprised at what they heard?

Both find in this exchange a description of their mission to the world – Jesus sent by the Father to be saviour of the world. Peter the one entrusted with ensuring that the message of salvation is made known to the world.

Master and servant are united in common purpose.

  • Pray for Pope Francis, successor of St Peter, for his faithfulness in continuing the ministry entrusted to him.
  • Pray for the whole Church for its steadfastness and humility in its service of teh world.

Jesus saving Peter from sinking. St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.
(c) 2015, Allen Morris
.

Speak Lord: Make us one

Beatitudes2The First reading at Mass on Sunday, the 6th Sunday of Easter, reminds of the fundamental equality of all people in the eyes of God.

As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. But Peter helped him up. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘I am only a man after all!’

Then Peter addressed them: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’

While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.

Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48

Christians are children of God, members of the new People, not to confer on us a new and particular dignity, but to entrust to us a new and particular mission. We are called to build up the family of God, a family comprising all peoples, of all types and sorts.

In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. We are simply called to be one as He is One.