No audio. No homily. No sheep at Mass. That’s the way it’s been for some weeks. Those few who were able to assist at daily Mass are now busy with doctors and hospitals and people needing care at home. They’re in their late 70s and early 80s. This is a really, really, really tiny parish. Per capita, we do have a super high attendance rate, relatively speaking, proportionally speaking, when even one person shows up, but, with circumstances, they might not. We’re averaging just one daily Mass with attendance at the main church and at the mission church. We are dwindling in this “retire in the mountains fad” parish since that fad began and ended decades ago. Those who came then are now on their way out. But I digress. Regarding the Gospel from John:
(1) Peter is asked by Jesus whether Peter has a self-sacrificing love for Jesus and Peter says that he has a merely brotherly respect for Jesus.
(2) Peter is asked yet again by Jesus whether Peter has a self-sacrificing love for Jesus and Peter says that he has a merely brotherly respect for Jesus.
(3) Peter is asked a third time by Jesus whether Peter has a… a…. Ooops! Jesus changed the question this third time through. We recall that Peter denied Jesus three times. This time, Peter is asked not if he has a self-sacrificing love for Jesus, but whether Peter has a merely brotherly respect for Jesus. That hurts. Peter is deeply grieved not only that Jesus pointedly asked him a third time, but lowered the stakes so as to say that, no, Peter didn’t even have a brotherly respect for Jesus. But Peter answers in the affirmative not about the past, obviously, but right now, before the risen Jesus. Obviously, because of his grief, Peter wants to say that he now has a self-sacrificing love for Jesus, but how can he? Jesus is sporting those wounds on His hands and feet and side, in His heart.
But Jesus then encourages Peter, telling him about the self-sacrificing death by which Peter is to show his self-sacrificing love for Jesus. Mind you, Jesus giving us the opportunity to witness to Him by laying down our lives is an encouragement.
That’s all really cool, right? Not all think so. I remember one priest to whom I described all this from the Greek text of John’s Gospel instead of the dumbed-down stupid translations, and he objected ferociously, saying that it’s wrong to say all that, to follow the inspired text, that I should just follow the translation prepared by committee of some bishops conference, because we are not a complicated people and need to have texts that, because of being so ambiguous, so able to be manipulated, can reflect whatever flow of culture there happens to be at the time. In other words, Peter’s denial really wasn’t so serious. Jesus really didn’t reprimand him all that much. But if you dumb-down the sin and the reprimand, you also dumb-down Jesus’ encouragement of Peter and the heights of love to which Jesus wishes to bring Peter. So, let’s just stick with the inspired text. Why be dark and dumbed-down? Jesus’ love is most glorious. Thank you Jesus.