One Way Easter Day Stays

Jesus said, “Simon, do you love me?” Simon answered, “Yes, Lord. you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again, Jesus said, “Simon, do you love me?” Simon answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Tend my sheep.” Again, Jesus said, “Simon, do you love me?” Peter, hurt that Jesus had asked a third time, said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…and follow me” (John 21.15-17, 19b; my rendition)

Whenever, through expediency or cowardice, I’ve denied something I said or did or betrayed a cherished belief or value, I feared having a conversation (perhaps a confrontation!) with the person I wronged. Likewise, when I’ve been wronged, the last thing I want to do is to engage my offender.

Yet Jesus and Peter painfully, courageously opened the tomb of the rotting bones of Peter’s triple denial of Jesus when he faced the cross of his crucifixion and death.[1] Through their reaffirmation of love, they shared a resurrection-experience of reconciliation and the restoration of trust, expressed in Jesus’ renewal of his call, “Feed my sheep” and “Follow me.”

Henri-Frédéric Amiel, a 19th century Swiss moral philosopher and poet,[2] wrote: “Life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”

In the searing light of this transformative encounter between Jesus and Peter, I see more clearly acts of denial and betrayal. Mine done unto others and others done unto me. In this light, I also see more clearly that there are people in this world with whom I need to have a conversation like that of Jesus and Peter. Intending no judgment of anyone else, I suspect that I am not alone.

To take the risk of going to the tombs of our broken relationships, daring to trust in the hope of resurrection is one way, I believe, that Easter Day – which, as a celebration, always annually comes and goes – stays.

© 2022 PRA

Illustration: Feed My Lambs (1886-1894), James Tissot (1836-1902)

#resurrectedliving #reconciliation #forgiveness #restorationofrelationship


[1] See John 18.17, 25-27

[2] Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881)

2 thoughts on “One Way Easter Day Stays

  1. Dear Paul,

    Thank you so much for these thoughts. They are brave and wise instruction for all times, but I think particularly for these fraught days when broken and neglected relationships are even more frequently destructive of many of our lives and much of the peace of our society than in the less fretful past.

    It is so damnably hard to face the consequences of our betrayals of ourselves and of our sisters and brothers and of theirs of ourselves. It is so much easier to allow the echoing silences and the great chasms of distance to grow and to think we are better off not disturbing – in your wonderfully expressive phrase – “the tomb of the rotting bones” of those often convenient betrayals. It is such a comfortable-seeming, insidious human temptation to let it all simply be, but what life and possibility we lose when we take the easy path that denies reconciliation and foregoes any chance for love to perform its healing work and perhaps bring about a resurrection.

    Your wisdom found its mark this morning, my dear brother Paul. I needed to read what you had to say, and I thank you for being so aptly, and somewhat uncomfortably, present to a dilemma I’ve been facing in several regards for a while now.

    With gratitude and much love,

    Karen

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  2. My beloved sister Karen, this pilgrimage we call “life” is so delightfully and (to employ your word, which, in my life, frequently I have been given to utter/write) damnably — often at the same time in manifold ways — with the tensions (those inner simultaneously-experienced, contrarily-pulling desires) of what it is to be in relationship (the rapture and the risk) and the necessity of individual self-care (the self-preservation and self-stultification). (Hmmm, I am not, in this instant moment, decidedly sure that I know what I mean by this declaration!)

    Where I find myself is at a renewed place of painful recognition that I have hurt others and that I need to reach out (although under the 12-step guidance of being cautious and considerate should my seeking to address a wrong [whether done by me or to me] cause more harm) to them. Question: Am I doing this more for me (of course, as I am the one reaching out seeking reconciliation, in goodly measure, it is for me) or for the other person or for us? I strive, with the burden of the limitations of my inability to see the future outcome or, even, know the fullest depths of mine own motivations, to do what is good and right and honorable. Moreover, in this, I pray that my inner wrestling does not derail my acting.

    AND that I was any help to you at all, I rest in the peace of gratitude.

    Love you,
    Paul

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