Liturgical Colour : White
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the calling and the commissioning of St. Peter the Apostle, when the Lord Jesus talked to him, heart-to-heart on the shore of the Lake of Galilee after His resurrection. He asked Peter three times whether he loved Him more than anything or anyone else, and Peter affirmed his love and faith in Jesus. And Jesus gave him His sheep to care for, as His vicar on earth, which is the position inherited by our Pope today as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle.
For those of us who do not realise the significance of such an action by Jesus in today’s readings, Jesus asked Peter three times for his answer whether he loved Him is exactly because, for the same number of times, Peter had betrayed His Lord by denying Him on that night when Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, that is the Council of the elders and the chief priests to be condemned to death.
Peter surely knew that the Lord did such when He asked for his love three times, that the Lord knew of His denial, and how he had fallen as a disciple of His, but yet when Jesus asked him and affirmed his love for Himself, Peter had truly been forgiven by the most merciful Lord, and from then on, became the greatest servant of the Lord, leading the flock of Christ as His vicar on earth.
Today we focus on the Lord in His merciful and loving aspect, just as He is caring to all of us. But He also revealed today that to be His followers and servants is definitely not easy, and various challenges will await us if we decide to remain true to His path, as St. Peter himself had been told and what truly happened to him at the end of his life, as well as what had happened to St. Paul, who had to endure prison and incarcerations after incarcerations.
Jesus told Peter himself how he would die at the hands of the godless, and those who refused to listen to the truth of Christ. This was in fact the same fate that awaits all those who went on to preach the Good News, including the other Apostles and disciples of Christ, and St. Paul himself. They all met their deaths in various ways, but nevertheless, through their death, they brought glory to God, and through them more and more people came to know of the Lord and be saved.
All of these bring about the reality about our faith. For too long we have indeed been complacent in our faith, and we often take a laid-back attitude about it, pretending that we have easy and blissful life all the time in this world. On the other extreme is also that we are afraid to seek the Lord and ask for His forgiveness whenever we have committed sins in our respective lives. We therefore become isolated and do not receive the Lord’s forgiveness and instead we fall into even greater darkness, committing even greater evils.
We have to realise, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today’s Scripture readings had highlighted it to us, that we have to accept the realities it presented to us, that first, God is loving and merciful, for to those who have the will and desire to love God, He will grant them pardon and rich blessings. And secondly, that His way is different from the ways of the world, and this is why, suffering and persecution will be a part of the lives of those who keep their faith in God.
But God is always with us, and He will guide us, if we remain faithful, and that He assured the disciples and the Apostles, and rich indeed would be their reward for keeping the faith in heaven. And today, brethren, we also commemorate yet another faithful servant of God, that is St. Norbert, a bishop of Germany, who lived during the middle of the Medieval era Europe, and was also known as St. Norbert of Xanten, for he was born in that city.
St. Norbert led a very holy and religious life, and a life of simplicity and humility, especially after an incident which almost took his life, which he attributed to divine protection, and ever since, he deepened further his spirituality and dedication to the Lord. He established and strengthened religious orders and helped to spread the teachings of the faith to many people, and gained great following in the process.
He was a great reformer of the Church and the faith, adamant and strong in his principles in reforming the Church for the better, especially after he was appointed as the Archbishop of Magdeburg, an important position in the Church. And in conducting and pushing forward with his reforms, he made many enemies, many of whom sent assassins after him. Nevertheless those attempts failed, and St. Norbert continued to carry out his good deeds and works until his passing from this world.
We have to realise, brethren, that we have many graces awaiting us if we allow God to come to us, and do not close ourselves to the loving hands of the Lord, which He extends freely to us, offering us forgiveness and everlasting love. May St. Norbert intercede for us, that we may be brought ever closer to reconciliation with our God, and receive great blessings in our lives. Let us also face the challenges and opposition in life with joy and happiness, knowing that God is always with us, His beloved children. God bless us all. Amen.