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Bishop's Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter

May 1, 2022

[Sacred Heart Church, Punahou; Our Lady of the Mount Church, Kalihi; Holy Family Church, Honolulu (Confirmations and First Communions)]

We all know what nagging is.  If you want something, and whoever has it does not immediately give it to you, you keep asking and asking and asking until you get an answer – hopefully the answer you want!  (Do your homework.  Do your homework!  I said, do your homework! Or Go to bed!  Go to bed!  Go to bed now!)  Nagging can get on our nerves, but is it always a bad thing?  Sometimes it is something we need so that we can do the right thing that is ultimately good for us.

Today we see Jesus asking Peter the same question three times: “Do you love me?”  Jesus knew Peter well enough to know that he often said things he did not really mean or at least not understand.  He said Jesus was the Son of God, yet within a few minutes he was telling Jesus he must not talk about giving his life in suffering, and Jesus had to scold him.  At the Last Supper Peter said he would never abandon Jesus but would die with him, yet just a few hours later he denied three times that he even knew Jesus.  So when Jesus wanted to know if Peter really loved him, perhaps he had to nag him about it to see if he would eventually qualify his answer.  (“Well, yes, but….)  But in the end Jesus’ nagging paid off.  And it was shown not just in words but in deeds.  Peter was willing to be put in prison or even to die for proclaiming the risen Jesus and healing in Jesus’ name.  Not only that, but he rejoiced to be mistreated for the sake of the Name of Jesus.  Peter spent the rest of his life feeding the lambs and tending the sheep of Christ’s beloved flock, even when it led to Peter’s own death.  It was the fact that Jesus never gave up on him, but kept going back, again and again, to remind him that love is the basis of it all.

Before you candidates for Confirmation are confirmed, you will be asked to renew your Baptismal Promises, to renounce Satan and to express your belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  You already made those promises at your Baptism, but Jesus is asking you again.  In fact, he asks all of us again on Easter Sunday to renew our Baptismal Promises every year.  Is this nagging?  Maybe it is, in a good sense.  Like Peter, we need to be constantly reminded of who we are and of our real mission in life.  Our real mission in life is not to become good husbands or wives, good parents or good children, to become priests, deacons, religious sisters or brothers.  It is not to have successful careers.  Our real mission in life is to fall in love with Jesus and to want the whole world to fall in love with him.  But we forget, and so Jesus is not above nagging us a bit, like he did Peter, to make sure we are dedicated to the mission he entrusts to us.

But before Jesus asks Peter to feed others, Jesus himself feeds him.  He first allows him to have this miraculous catch of fish.  Then he fixes breakfast for him and the other disciples.  So Jesus always takes the initiative before he asks us to do something.

And so it is that Jesus reaches out to you today, first by breathing on you and sending his Holy Spirit upon you.  He anoints you with the Sacred Chrism so that he can kiss you on the forehead with a kiss that will stay with you the rest of your lives.  It is his way of saying, “I love you,” by sealing you with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Then he will say “I love you again” when he invites you to eat his Body and drink his Blood in Holy Communion.  If you think catching lots of fish is a miracle, it is nothing compared to the miracle you are about to witness of ordinary bread and wine being changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.  And Jesus wants you to come here every Sunday of your lives – and more often if you can – so that he can nag away at our cold and hard hearts until we finally realize how much he loves us; until we can say with total honesty, “Lord, you know everything.  You know well that I love you.”  He wants to remind us in the memorial supper that just as he laid down his life for us, we should lay down our lives for others; just as he gives himself as the food and drink for his beloved sheep, we should give ourselves also to feed his beloved sheep.

Jesus knows how slow we are to believe the miracle of his love and how hesitant we are to return his love by loving one another, so he calls us back again and again to remind us.  We must learn not to be offended at this nagging of our hearts that Jesus does, because in the end, it is his way of turning them completely to him and to all the people he loves so dearly.  He gives us the gifts of his own divine life, so that we can freely share those gifts with others.