Archive for June 1st, 2020



“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  (John 21: 15)

If there were any bystanders to this exchange between Jesus and Peter, they must have been puzzled.  What was all this about?  Did Jesus doubt Peter and his loyalty as a friend?  Was Peter hurt by this line of questioning?  Were Jesus and Peter even on the same wave length?

It seems to me that the last question may be the key to figuring out what all this was about.  For Jesus this was not an issue of whether they were “best friends.”  This was about the nature of the love that Peter had for Jesus.  Did Peter understand what it involved?  And if it took three questions to pin Peter down, then so be it.

In the Middle Ages the bishops of Rome took as one of many titles “Servant of the Servants of God.”  Perhaps that is how best to appreciate what Jesus expected of Peter. Their friendship was one that brought responsibility and duty; and if Peter was to love Jesus, then that love had to extend to all whom Jesus loved.

For any who assume that love of Jesus brings special authority or privileged status, they are sadly mistaken.  It brings instead responsibility.  It entails feeding the Lord’s sheep rather than taking advantage of them.

That, it seems to me, is the very definition of what it means to be Christian.  It means that we love and also serve our neighbor, just as the Lord came to love and serve us.


+On 27 May I participated via Zoom in the meeting of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart School in Atherton, CA.

+On May 29th I was the celebrant at the abbey Mass, and today’s post is the transcript of the sermon that I delivered that day.  At the beginning of Mass we prayed for peace in the hearts and neighborhoods of the people of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Since then we have prayed for them at all of our Masses and at morning and evening prayer.  It is a real human tragedy.

+On 30 May I gave a retreat conference to members of the Subpriory of Our Lady of Lourdes of the Order of Malta.  Normally this retreat takes place in Malvern, PA, but this year of course we could not gather there.  If I had one misgiving it was this:  would members stick with me through my forty-five minutes on their computer screens?  Who knows.

+Sunday May 31st was the feast of Pentecost, and the photos in this post show a retable and frontal of the Life of Christ and the Virgin, now housed in the Art Institute in Chicago.  It was made in 1356 for Pedro López de Ayala for his chapel in Quejana in northern Spain.  The panel at top shows the Ascension and Pentecost.  At bottom is the entire ensemble.  The greenery in this post is a cluster of peonies in a garden outside the abbey church.  Known especially in Germany as the “Pentecost rose”, peonies usually bloom too late in Minnesota to earn that title.


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