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Showing posts from July 4, 2021

St. Peter Asks Jesus About St. John (John 21:20-25)

 In all honesty, St. Peter probably wasn't too thrilled about dying a gruesome death. Rather than think about that, he wanted to change the subject. St. John was standing there when he turned around. Maybe St. John was looking joyful; maybe he was making notes for the Gospel we are reading right now. Who knows? St. John says again that he could write more than he has written, and as we think about it, that makes sense. There is nothing about the "signs" of Jesus that seems normal or ordinary. Even as we know that these are ordinary people caught up in the story of Jesus, Jesus and his story are anything but ordinary. Jesus answers him by saying basically, "Don't you worry about him! You have your own job to do! If I want him to be alive when I come back, what is that to you?" We can see why people might have thought that Jesus meant that St. John wouldn't die. On the one hand, St. John is the only one of the faithful apostles who did not die for his fait

Peter Is Reconciled To Jesus (John 21:15-19)

 Now, the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. St. Peter might have thought that this part of his life was over, since he failed so spectacularly in following Jesus. You can't do much worse than denying Jesus three times. Much has been said in preaching about the wording here, and that Jesus is calling Peter to a deeper love than he is at first willing to give. That is all true. Still, I want to focus on the fact that Jesus asked the question three times, the same number of Peter's denials. Jesus could have said simply, "I forgive you, and I love you." Yet there is something real about each denial that needs to be reconciled. Three denials, three affirmations of love, and three commands from Jesus, which are really one command: to take care of the Church, and all of its members. Peter cannot wallow in self-pity, because Jesus has sent him to do a job. We all need the grace of Christ, and the mercy of Christ, but none of it is simply for us to keep and enjoy. We

"The Train Job," and the Virtue Ethics of Malcolm Reynolds

 As most of you know, I am a board-certified geek. I do believe that science fiction can serve as a kind of parable, a way to talk about contentious things, without raising defenses, before thinking takes place. There was once a little television show called "Firefly," about a ragtag group of misfits on the run from an autocratic government in the far future. They sought mercenary work in space, far from the oppressive government. The protagonist, Malcolm Reynolds, fought in the war against that government, called The Alliance. Malcolm--his closest friends call him, "Mal"--lost that war, and lost his Christian faith, when he prayed to God, and God did not deliver "the Browncoats" out of the hands of the Alliance. In one thought-provoking and moving story within the 13-episode arc which was Firefly, Mal and the gang get a job to steal some sort of crate from a train passing from one town to another on a particular planet. They don't know what's in t