When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
The shores of the Sea of Galilee possess an ethereal beauty that at once places the soul in a peace and stillness which is unlike any other on Earth. This is the Sea which Christ walked on. This is the place where many of his miraculous healings took place. This is a place of intimate encounter.
It was providential that this year, the third theology class received the extra grace of traveling to the Holy Land during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Not surprisingly, on my trip to the Holy Land the scenes of Peter’s life were the most inspiring and moving places of prayer.
Good ole’ St. Pete, the fisherman. Isn’t he so human? Throughout the entirety of the Gospels, Peter is a wavering dinghy of enthusiasm mixed with fear, confusion, and brashness, yet he is called to be the strong barque of the Church. From the moment the Lord called Peter off of the Sea, he was ready to serve the Lord but he was weak and unworthy in many ways. “Depart from me I am a sinful man.” “Lord I will never leave you.” I mean, this is the man to whom the Lord said, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me,” and yet he is also the Rock on which Christ builds the Church. Ultimately, we know that Peter denied Jesus at the most vulnerable and lonely moment of his life, and he made it even worse by cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Who is this crazy man? He is you and me, and every Christian.
Peter wishes to love the Lord with all that he has, but he knows how unworthy he is of that great calling. Yet, the Lord reaches out to Peter with the greatest gift of all: his Divine Mercy. At the shore, following the Resurrection, Christ cancels the three-fold denial by giving Peter three more chances to profess his love and return to the Lord.
As I approach Diaconate Ordination, I think this the perfect place to be, on the shore with St. Peter. The great responsibility of being called to ordained ministry is one that creates fear and trembling within many, if not all of us, who are called to so great a Mystery. I am sure that the same sentiment is true when approaching the beautiful sacrament of Matrimony. In the face of so great a Mystery, what else can we do but cling to the mercy and grace of the Lord who promises to provide for every lack. This is our identity, broken but beloved sons and daughters of the Lord, but oh to whom else shall we go?
Deacon Clay Kimbro is a third year theology student from the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, and was ordained a Deacon on Friday, May 27, 2016 at the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita.