Sunday, May 5
I’m not a big shopper and I don’t spend a lot of time in department stores or even online. I was asked by one of our young adult couples if I would preside at their wedding this summer just outside Portland, Oregon. The stars seemed to align in the right order and so, honored by their request, I was able to say yes and I look forward to just a quick overnight trip to Portland later in the summer to witness the vows of John Paul and Lauren. Last week I went online to purchase an airline ticket for this “away game” wedding in a few months. Although I generally fly Southwest when I’m going anywhere and therefore I know what to expect on their website, this time I had to go with a different airline in order for the timing to work out. I know many of you can do this kind of stuff in your sleep but for an infrequent flyer like me, online purchasing of an airplane ticket is always a slow, tedious process. But what made this particular transaction a little more frustrating was the continuous “extras” United kept throwing at me during the session. Did I want to purchase their credit card in order to get a break on the overall price and automatically get a ton of miles? Did I want to upgrade my seat assignment for more money? Did I want to prepay for any baggage now before my August departure? Did I want my itinerary sent to anyone else besides my email? It was one question after another before I could get to the ultimate conclusion of just purchasing a simple ticket on an airline so I could go do this wedding. Just get to the point!!!
I don’t know anything about the marketing and sales world but I’m sure some smart person who knows and understands all the various components and algorithms of how to maximize a purchase came up with all the right questions to ask the customer. I get it. But, gee, it can be frustrating at times.
I’m wondering if Peter felt the same thing as he stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee getting peppered with the same question by the Risen Lord Jesus: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Not once, but three times! I know, from having studied this text in John’s Gospel, that the translation of Love is used in a couple of different ways according to the language Jesus is speaking to Peter. But no matter what the translation, for our English listening ears today, you can almost feel the frustration level escalating as Peter is being repeatedly asked “do you love me?” Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!!! Why do you have keep asking me this question??
Obviously the triple questioning about Peter’s love corresponds to the triple denial he expressed only a few days earlier in the courtyard when he passionately separates himself from knowing Jesus. So today is different.
Perhaps some repetition isn’t so bad after all. Though we can hear a lot of things once in our lives and be satisfied (like facts or figures), there are many aspects of life that bear repeating: expressing that we’re loved; hearing again and again that we’re forgiven; and emphasizing over and over again that we are Welcomed. Rituals like the Sunday liturgy can, at times, sound repetitive but knowing that we’re never the same when we walk in, as opposed to our previous visits, allows us to hear again and again the Love and Hope we need to keep persevering as disciples on this journey, called to feed the lambs and to care for the sheep. Perhaps by repeating and practicing it, we’ll even get better at it!
Happy Easter Season to all,
Father Tom Hurley