The Mission of Easter

The Mission of Easter

Third Sunday of Easter. Fr Robert Gay wants us to get excited.

In today’s Gospel we hear that when Peter recognized the Lord, he got out of the boat and ‘sprang into the sea’. At this point in time we still have that elation of the Vigil, of the Easter alleluia, and it’s easy to identify with Peter’s excitement. Perhaps we too felt a similar giddiness in the early hours of the morning after the Vigil. Perhaps we felt that somehow the news that Christ is risen had made just a little more impact this year.

After Peter’s elation comes the calm, a certain normality resumes, even in the presence of the risen Lord. The disciples and Jesus have breakfast, just as we have gone on doing the normal things of life, mundane things that seem somewhat removed and unaffected by the elation of Easter. But of course, this is no ordinary breakfast.

If we cast our minds back, we remember that we watched Peter deny Christ three times. Here, he makes three professions of love, three confirmations of his faith. I wonder if we can identify ourselves with Peter’s Easter journey? We’re people who, on some occasions, have denied the Lord. We have said and done things which say ‘I do not know Him’, rather than ‘I love him’. Here we are now, in Eastertide, and we too have the chance to put right our past wrongs, by saying that we love the Lord.

And we can do much more than that; we can do what he asks of us. When Peter says yes to Jesus, he’s immediately given a mission. Likewise, part of the growth for us as Christians is not just that we stop denying the Lord in various ways but also that we say that we love the Lord and that we act out that love, by accepting the mission that Christ gives us.

But the mission might take us to places that we would rather not go. It is clear from today’s Gospel that Peter will be required to undergo a similar death to the one which Jesus suffered. Most of us will not suffer a similar fate, but nevertheless we may well end up outside our ‘comfort zone’. If we find ourselves in such a situation, then we need to take courage by looking back to the excitement of the news of the Resurrection.

It’s this excitement that will bring us alive in the face of the challenges of the mission. We have the mission and we carry it out because Christ has risen, and nothing could be more important than that.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this passage is not found in Peter’s confession with his tongue, but in his actions when he recognizes the Lord, in the fact that he got out of the boat and ‘sprang into the sea.’ Discipleship doesn’t just require us to be able to say we love the Lord. It means sharing in Peter’s excitement about the Resurrection. We need to have that same elation as Peter, the elation of realising that sin and death have been conquered.

If this reality sinks in that little bit deeper in us, what effect might it have on the more mundane aspects of our lives? Shouldn’t it make us look at things differently? The good news of the Resurrection raises us out of the pickle we so often get ourselves into, renews our whole being, and gives us a mission. Let’s get excited about what the Resurrection has done for us, and go out into the world and let that good news spread.

Readings: Acts 5:27-32,40-41|Revelation 5:11-14|John 21:1-19

Fr Robert Gay is Prior of the Priory of the Holy Spirit, Oxford, and he is also a lector in moral theology at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.