Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 25:13b-21)

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea
on a visit to Festus.
Since they spent several days there,
Festus referred Paul's case to the king, saying,
"There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews
brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
I answered them that it was not Roman practice
to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers
and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
So when they came together here, I made no delay;
the next day I took my seat on the tribunal
and ordered the man to be brought in.
His accusers stood around him,
but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.
Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died
but who Paul claimed was alive.
Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy,
I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem
and there stand trial on these charges.
And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody
for the Emperor's decision,
I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."

Gospel (Jn 21:15-19)

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Jesus’ disciples have a duty to care for and to sacrifice for their sheep.

             

            In life, it is easy to find a civil leader because most people desire position, power and material gains; but it is hard to find a religious leader because there is not only with little power and material gains but also persecution, prison and even death. There is no surprise that the priesthood and religious vocation gradually decreased, especially in rich countries where success is measured by prestige and money. Without material gains, what motivated people to sacrifice themselves to care for God’s people?

            Today readings show us the exemplars and the reasons for their service. In the first reading, Paul was seized by the Jews of the Sandherin and handed to the Roman govenor because of his faith in Jesus Christ and of spreading of his doctrine. The Roman governor was afraid to release him because of the Jews even though he found no crime in him to be condemned. Paul made a petition to be tried by the Roman emperor because he is a Roman citizen. In the Gospel, Jesus asked Peter three times that if he loved him before gave him the mission to care for his sheep. If Peter had no love for Jesus, he could never sacrifice his career to care for the flock, especially to endure prison and death.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Paul was moved to Rome to be judged by the emperor.

1.1/ There was no proof from his accusers: When king Agrippa reigned over Galilee and Perea, he and Bernice, Drussila’s sister, Felix’s wife, came to Judea to visit Festus who was the Roman governor of Judea. Festus knew that Agrippa had knowledge of Judaism and its tradition, so he talked with him about Paul’s case. He said to him: “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge. So when they came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.”

1.2/ It was about the religious dispute: Like Jesus’ case in which Pilate refused to judge Jesus on the basis of religious dispute; the Jews must gather together to find out a political reason for Pilate to condemn Jesus. They found one and said to him: “If you release him, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (Jn 19:12). With that reason, Pilate was afraid and handed Jesus over for them to be crucified. In Paul’s case, Festus said: “Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

            Paul was very clever because he knew that if he is tried in Jerusalem, the Jews certainly condemned him to death.

2/ Gospel: Take care of my sheep.

           

2.1/ Jesus gave Peter a duty to care for his flock: Today passage belongs to chapter 21, the last chapter of the Fourth Gospel. Many scholars think that this chapter wasn’t written by John, but added later by his disciples. This chapter had many points which John mentioned in previous chapters, but were highlighted in this chapter.

            (1) The importance of love: In chapters 13-16, Jesus talked with his disciples many times about the relationship between love and keeping his commandments. If they love him, they must keep his commandments; and the most important commandment in John is the commandment of love. In today passage, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Many referred these three times to Peter’s three times denials of Jesus in his Passion.

            (2) One must have God’s love before he can serve others: Beginning of chapter 13, when Jesus knew that it is about the time for him to go back to the Father, he wanted to show the depth of his love for his disciples, so he did the work of a slave by washing their feet. After that, he said to his disciples who were still startled by his work: “You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet” (Jn 13:13-14).

            Jesus had to ask Peter three times before gave him a duty to take care of his sheep. This action reminded Peter that he must have God’s love in order to fulfill his duty because it is very difficult and requires great patience. This duty is easy to be neglected and discarded because it isn’t compensated with prestige and material gains.

2.2/ The shepherd must be ready to sacrifice his life for his flock: In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus also taught his disciples: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus didn’t teach it as an ideal, but he exemplified by becoming the first to do so. He carried the cross and died for people to encourage his disciples that they must also do the same for their sheep as the Good Shepherd. In today passage, he said to Peter: “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."”

            Follow his Master, Peter was also courageous to leave behind his family, career and position to take care God’s flock, the Church, in a very difficult and challenging beginning. When he was old, he was ready to die to witness for Jesus. There was only one difference between Jesus and Peter; according to the tradition, Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he thought he isn’t worthy to be crucified like Jesus.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To be a leader in the Church is very different with a leader in a society. Jesus demands the shepherd to be permeated with God’s love and to lead by love and service, not by power and command.

            - The shepherd is given a duty to love, to care for and to protect his flock. To accomplish this duty, the shepherd could have to sacrifice his life for his sheep.

            - The shepherd shall not be compensated according to worldly standards such as: prestige, authority and material gains; but he shall find joy and love with God because he responded to His love.

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