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In our first podcast, Father Robert Elias Barcelos explains that true holiness and joy come from abiding and sharing in perfect Love, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as exemplified by Saint John of the Cross
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Jesus asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter responds, “You are Christ, the son of the living God.’ In your contemplation, plumb the depths and implications of what Christ, Cristos, really means. Who is this anointed? This Y’shua? What does he mean to me? Jesus doesn’t ask, ‘Who do people say that I am? What are they talking about in the streets? What does the media say? What’s the public opinion?’ No. He asks, ‘Who do YOU say that I am?’
Ultimately, our destiny comes down to a decision. ‘Who do I say He is?’ In your answer to that question, how will you respond with your life?’
The person of Christ is unparalleled in history. There will be never anyone like Him, and there was never anyone like Him before He came on earth. He revolutionized human creation and redemption; he revolutionized our destinies.
Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a godly man or a religious figure; he was God made man. Some religions have incarnations of a mystical kind. However, Christ wasn’t just someone to be spoken about in mythological terms; His being is concrete and historical. The mystery of His humanity became an event in a specific time in history, with huge implications, and it only took Him three years to turn the world upside down. What He did is unlike anything else.
What Christ came to offer and invites us into is not just one religion among many; it is not something that we have invented and discovered. It is not just a human idea or philosophy. It’s God’s revelation of our eternal destiny in Him. What Christ has done is something that has been revealed. He invites us into a relationship with Him.
In many of his writings, Saint John Paul II writes about the theme of gazing, of contemplating upon the face of Jesus Christ. He describes the glory shining on the face of the risen Christ, as ‘supremely beautiful.’ During the Transfiguration, John, Peter, and James, and the two great figures of the old covenant, Elijah and Moses, gaze upon His face. We too are invited to do the same, that our lives may be transformed. By the discovery of who God is, we discover who we are.
When Saint Peter exclaims, “You are the Christ,’ Jesus responds, ‘That didn’t come from you.’ Peter did not come to this conclusion on his own. It was a gift from God that was infused in him so that he would have this knowledge, awareness, and epiphany.
After his epiphany of coming to know Jesus, our Lord gives Peter an epiphany of coming to know himself. Jesus says, ‘You are Peter. You’re no longer Simon, son of Jonah.’ Simon means sand; before Peter’s infused knowledge of Christ, he had very little stability. Only after Peter is able to gaze at Christ with the eyes of faith and know Him, does Jesus change his whole identity. He names him Peter, which means the rock.
And on this rock, Christ has built His Church. From Peter’s human weakness, Christ brings glory out of brokenness (to be continued).
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JOHN 21: 1-19
At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
One of the most popular books in the past is The Five Languages, a book about how
people by their character, communicate love.
Most of us are better at one or two rather than all. The languages are
Words of Affirmation – People who speak words of
life in their ordinary life, are able to see the Lord in the other person; they
can acknowledge a person’s beauty and purpose, and draw it out of them. They
validate a person’s sense of being lovable; this gift is not that common
Touch – Giving expressions of love through
embrace and touch
Actions – Giving through works of devotion &
service; this gift is usually found in men (as in household repairs). Doing
something that is helpful.
Gift giving – The ability to find and give gifts
that expresses the essence of a person
Quality Time –Spending important time together. Even though it doesn’t feel like we’re doing
something productive, I’m here for you.
The gift of Quality Time is the lens through which we must understand
prayer and contemplation – being with
In today’s Gospel Jesus asks Peter the most important
question – Do you love me? The first
two times he asks, Jesus says, in the Greek translation, “Do you agape me?” He was asking Peter to go to the next level
of living in His love. Agape is that self-sacrificing, self-annihilating
love. It is a radical, divine love that
we’re all capable of –but it requires stripping. It is the white, hot love that is divine and eternal,
yet it happens now.
Agape love is
summarized in John 15, ‘That you lay down your life for the one you love.’ There has to be a sacrifice, a holocaust and
cost to self for the other. As a result, the gift of self is amplified.
Our Lord asks this important question, ‘Do you love me?’ – to Peter, who is being put on the spot in
front of his friends by the charcoal fire. And he is being humbled by it that
he may learn the lessons of humility in order for him to truly love.
The last time Peter was at charcoal fire, he denied having
known our Lord, when he had just earlier in the day, sworn that he would do
anything for Him. Peter’s disordered
self-love prepared the way for his fall, though he really did love Jesus. He really did love the Lord, but Peter was
Peter reveals that fight between flesh and spirit in every
human being, the weakness of humanity left to ourselves apart from the grace of
God. Left to ourselves, we’re no better;
like Peter, our real character and virtues are seen in positions of adversities.
But Peter was transformed after his own experience of cowardice
and weakness apart from Our Lord. We have to have a true sense of who we are
apart from God so that pride can’t get in the way of real love –humility allows
our soul to be better cultivated for a lasting fruit of Love that doesn’t come
just from human motive, but from God.
In this exchange, Jesus calls Peter Simon, Son of John. Why?
Peter represents rock; Simon represents sand. Peter is the title he had
been endowed with by Christ- ‘the boss
in charge,’ ‘the head hancho.’ Jesus doesn’t call him by his title but by his
humanity. He calls him by his old name, by which those who knew him as a child
knew him, and reminds Peter who he is left to himself.
Jesus wants to speak to the child, the vulnerable in Peter
because He wants to bring strength in his weakness. He is bringing him back to Galilee, his first
calling and first love. As you
remember, Jesus called Peter first as he was fishing. Now, He is renewing Peter’s calling at a time
when Peter was about to give up his vocation, and just wants to go back and
Jesus asks ‘Do you love me’ three times to make reparation
for the three times Peter denied him. In
so doing, He gives Peter the chance to renew his calling and to repair his
vocation to Love. Now, Peter learns the
humility and has the proper foundations to be a servant of Love.
In the Greek translation, Peter does not respond with the agape word for love, but with the word, eros, which is a friendship love. Before, when he overestimated himself, he
could say that he could give Jesus the
agape love. But now, after having
been humbled, he is finally acknowledging and can admit that he can’t love
Jesus in the way Jesus has loved him.
The third time, Jesus asks the question, He says, ‘Do you eros me,’ and that is when Peter is able
to say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ This shows us that
Jesus accepts us as we are and not as we should be. The Lord knew that Peter had no more to give
and wasn’t ready to give an agape love,
but He still appointed him to be the leader and shepherd of His Church.
Jesus accepts us as long as we are giving all that we can
give, and it is His Love that allows as to grow in Love. According to Saints John of the Cross and Teresa,
we are unable to give that agape love
until the 5th mansion, which is where the Holy Spirit is doing all
the work. We can’t get to agape love without the Holy Spirit.
But before that, God has to purify us, and we have to be
willing to undergo the painful, humiliating journey.
Eventually, at Pentecost, through the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, after he had been purified, Peter is able to love with the agape love. After Pentecost, Peter is able to rejoice that
he was counted worthy to suffer insult for the sake of Jesus’ name. Only the agape
love of the Holy Spirit was able to bring this about in Peter and can bring it about
Jesus’s love is so profoundly and scandalously humble. In
the Book of Revelations, we see the lamb
being glorified and exalted. Why not the eagle or the lion? The lamb is the sacrificial animal, which represents
the sacrifice of Love. The Most High became the most low for our sake. He didn’t need to do it; God doesn’t need
anything. But He did it all for us. He
says, ‘I am giving my life – for those whom I love.’
The whole universe exalts in the victory of the Lamb.
From the shore of Galilee, Jesus asks the disciples to put
the net on the right side of the boat. The moment Peter obeyed, he received a
super abundance of grace.
Peter had to be stripped and emptied, which is represented
by his ‘stripped’ clothing during this account, when he tucks his garments and
swims toward Jesus after recognizing Him. Similarly, once we choose God’s will
over ours, and strip ourselves, that is when we really begin to live a more
abundant life, through the Lord’s provision and not what we do ourselves.
At first the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, which
represents a spiritual journey that involves a dynamism of awareness and
mystery. They only realized who he was
at the breaking of the bread and at the feeding of fish, and when He
acknowledges that He will feed them with that agape love.
The humility of God is so radical. When St. Augustine had
not yet discovered God in his life, when he was seeking truths in the wisdom of
the day and all its eloquence, he was at first disappointed by Scripture; it was
too simple and lacked the language of the sages he studied. However, as he grew in faith, he discovered
the hidden wisdom of Christ that exuded from scripture.
That is how God always works – he chooses the humble
instruments to hide His grace. Only the humble can find the hidden treasure.
In Eastern iconography, the paintings are stark, but they
are a bridge to prayer. Only when a person enters into the simplicity of the
image in prayer, can they experience God’s grace and beauty in the icon. Only through prayer can that be received.
And there’s nothing more humble than the Eucharist, which is where we receive God’s agape love. He calls all of us to be his lambs and to live a life of Love. He trains us through a life that is nourished by sacrifice; this is the action of God’s movement in us.
The measure by which we unite ourselves with the light of Love through The Lamb, and the transformation of love in this life, is the measure that we will we share in His blessing forever and ever.
SOURCE: Santa Clara Order of Discalced Carmelite Seculars (OCDS) Formation, Father Robert Elias Barcelos, May 2019
OUR MISSION is to build a Carmelite foundation for souls to bring unity, peace, beauty, and the divine mercy of the Word to the world for the healing of humanity.