Life & Soul Life and Soul

The honour of suffering humiliation

The Miraculous Draft of Fishes (1444), by Konrad Witz

The Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32 & 40-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19 (Year C)

Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world. The very first words, then, that I would say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive.”

With these words, Pope Francis began his response to the Church and its youth following the recent synod in Rome. His plea expresses what is at the heart of our Easter celebration. Through the mystery of his Resurrection, Christ is alive in his Church, in the heart of every believer, every congregation and every family. Such life brings joy, an infectious joy that attracts others to itself. At the same time it stirs opposition from a world hostile to the values proclaimed in the Gospel.

Such was the opposition faced by the Apostles from the outset of their ministry. They were hauled before the High Priest and warned not to preach in the name of Jesus. Such opposition could not quench the joy that was within them. They left the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name. In our generation, as in every
generation, the Church will face humiliation, both from a sinful world and because of the sinfulness of its members. With faith, the life of the Risen Lord will always lead us to joy.

Such was the joy in affliction expressed in the Book of Revelation: “Then I heard all the living things in creation, everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, ‘To the One sitting on the Throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour and power, for ever and ever.’”

When we reach through the imagery and language of the Book of Revelation, we find an understanding of Christ’s risen life that embraces the whole of creation. At a time when the environment is seriously threatened, we cannot remain silent. It is for us to give voice to a creation that witnesses to Christ the Risen Lord.

Ultimately the joy of Easter rests in a love that is given, received and lived. Such was the love expressed in John’s account of the last encounter of the Apostles with their Risen Lord.

After many years as disciples, after the darkness of Good Friday with its desertions and denials, only one thing mattered, perfectly expressed in the Lord’s repeated question to Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

It is the Risen Christ, alive in our hearts, who enables us to respond with Peter: “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”