370 East Main Street
PO Box 7
Wytheville, VA 24382
Phone: (276) 228-3104
Fax: (276) 228-3322

Welcome to the Pastor's Desk

3rd Sunday of Easter

There was a story about an eight-year old boy with a younger sister who was dying of leukemia. She needed a blood transfusion in order to live, so the parents asked the boy if they could test his blood. He said okay, and they did and the blood matched, so they asked him if he would donate his blood to his sister and the boy said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next morning, the boy told his parents that he was willing to donate his blood, so they took him to the hospital where he was put on bed next to his sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs, and the nurse took a pint of blood from the boy, and put it in the girl’s IV. The boy lay there in silence while the blood dripped into his sister,and the doctor came in to see how they were doing and the boy opened his eyes and asked him, “How soon now until I die?”

Jesus tells us today that we are supposed to love just like that, even to the point of giving our lives in love for others.

Today’s gospel describes the appearance of the Risen Lord to His disciples: Maybe disappointed and discouraged from what had happened to Jesus, Peter and the other apostles got into their boat to go fishing but caught nothing until Jesus, told them to cast their net once again and haul in a great number of fish. Then the disciples join the Risen Lord for the breakfast and after the meal Jesus asked Peter, how much he loves Him. Do you ever wonder why Jesus had to ask Peter three times if he loved Him?

Jesus asked this question three times and there was a reason for that. It was because three times that Peter denied the Lord and it was three times that the Risen Lord gave him the chance to affirm his love. Jesus in His gracious forgiveness, gave Peter the chance to wipe out the memory of the threefold denial by a threefold declaration of love. And Peter is given the chance to make amends and start all over again.

When we hear the word “repentance” what immediately enters into our mind is “sorrow” and “contrition.” But the truth is not primarily a call for sorrow and contrition. Some people maybe sorry for what they have done but they may not be forgiven. Rather, the most important prerequisite for repentance is not sorrow for sins but loving and forgiving other people.

The Lord does not say that if you are sorry for your sins, you will be forgiven. Rather, the Lord says that if you have forgiven other people, then, your sins are forgiven too.

Another priest also said that we often admit about ourselves: “I can forgive that person but never forget.” It forgives but does not forgive.

The other prerequisite for repentance is found in today’s gospel by which Peter denied the Lord three times but Jesus did not ask Peter if he was sorry for denying Him but the Lord asked him if he still loves Him and Peter answered that he loves Him. Love is more important than sorrow because as one bishop said: “People who are sorrowful might not be loving. But people who love, always sorrowful for the sins they have committed.”

It is a fundamental need that we all have to love and be loved. We hear it all around us – in movies and televisions, in the songs we sing, in the things we dream about. But we are surrounded with false notion of love. I will mention some...

First, love can be bought. This is the most common. It is like commodity that can be bought by money. Our tendency is to give something material when we want to show that we love them. We buy them gifts. A boyfriend sends flowers and chocolates to his girlfriend or a husband brings his wife into a cozy restaurant. But love is not a commercial product. Love is care and concern rather than a gift. Even if we don’t have something to give, love is still possible.

Second, love is romantic. But love is not purely emotional. It is not in the heart really. It is in the head. Sometimes the greatest act of love is made in pain and suffering rather than in the romantic mood of happy endings. Romantic love is often shallow and transitory but real love is lasting. Like God’s love, it lasts forever.

Third, love is easy but finding someone to love is difficult. We are surrounded by people to love but is not easy to love because it demands on our selfishness and look away from self and look towards others. Not what I want but what do you need.

Last which is the common of all is idolatrous love. When a young man falls deeply in love with a girl and then begins to neglect his family and his studies, that’s idolatrous love. Or a businessman gets so wrapped up in work that there is no time for God.

Jesus loves us. We can respond to His love by loving Him too, but in what way? It is by loving others. And in loving others is our guiding Christian principle in life.