May 29, 2030
by Ed Morse
Creighton University's School of Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Lectionary: 301


Acts 25:13b-21
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab
John 21:15-19

Daily Easter Prayer



Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

An Even Better Marriage

Today’s readings cause us to pause and contemplate these questions:  Where are you going? Who are you following?  What is feeding you and what are you feeding others?     

The reading from Acts provides a vignette from Paul’s captivity.  Paul’s reputation as a passionate persecutor of Christians precedes his conversion into a passionate follower of Jesus Christ.  Some folks do not prefer so much passion, energy, and dynamism. Paul’s truth-telling makes people uncomfortable. Suppressing Paul became such a priority that they desired to kill him, landing Paul in protective custody that would ultimately take him on a journey to Rome.

Felix, Agrippa, and his sister Bernice are all midlevel managers in the Roman empire.  They do not maintain their positions by controversial decisions, and they are not about to get into the middle of what appears to be an internecine struggle over truth claims.  They may be curious, but they can afford to keep truth at a distance.  They have the comforts of their offices, enough power to maintain a semblance of control and enough wealth to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. They signal fealty to Roman law and protocols – when it suits them. Due process of law becomes a haven to escape the burden of controversial decisions.  Send this upstairs and let someone else deal with it.  Let’s get back to normal life and its comforting illusions of control.

Paul was not so detached.  He had encountered the living Jesus, and that truth had caused him to change his course – to repent.  He was on a new journey, and he had tied himself to the mast, so to speak. He was going to testify to the truth, wherever this journey would take him.

Today’s gospel presents us with another disciple’s conversion story rooted in an encounter with the risen Jesus.  Like Paul, Peter was once a passionate firebrand – except he had been passionate about following Jesus.  But Peter’s devotion faded before our Lord’s passion, when the cold waters of fear engulfed him.  Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself.  As the Lord had predicted, Peter denied him three times, the cock crowed, and he wept bitterly.  The fire of devotion had been extinguished, or so it seemed.

Then Peter encounters the risen Jesus.  After eating breakfast together, Jesus pressed Peter with questions.  Jesus allows Peter to affirm his love three times, negating his former denials.  Jesus knows Peter – including Peter’s need to know he has not lost confidence in him.  Jesus calls him on to a new journey – “follow me” and “feed my sheep”.  In other words, I will be with you – you will be following me, just as before.  There will be uncertainty and risk.  But stay away from the fear that nearly choked out your fire.  And remember my love and forgiveness when you feed my sheep.

Peter and Paul, Felix, Agrippa, and Bernice, all present examples for us to contemplate.  Where are we going?  Who are we following?  Let us neither feed on fear nor let the comforts of this life and our reliance on its illusions keep us detached from the love and forgiveness that comes from the risen Lord. Thanks be to God.

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morse@creighton.edu

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