What does this love, for which the apostles are willing to be punished and even killed, look like? In Revelations, chapter 5, we are given an image of “the Lamb, who was slain.” This image of the slain lamb- of Christ on the crucifix with his head hanging down- gives me chills. It is a visual reminder that our God loved us unto death. Yet before He died, Christ showed us how to love in practical ways. Christ, after dying for all of us and rising from the dead, does not reprimand the apostles for their cowardly ways(during His last hours), but helps them to catch a bunch of fish, and then serves them breakfast in the gospel of St. John, chapter 21. Christ is setting an example for us to be merciful and to continue to serve each other. This is love in action: to forgive those who hurt us, and to even take it a step further and to serve them. No wonder St. Peter jumped out of the boat and ran (or swam?) to Christ, and later died for his belief in Christ. He was full of love for Christ, the One who taught him how to love.
These readings help to inform the practices of what Dr. Cornel West would call “prophetic Christianity,” the Christianity of Dr. King, Dorothy Day, Sister Megan Rice, the Berrigan brothers, and other saints, here on earth and in heaven. It is a Christianity of civil disobedience- being arrested for one’s beliefs that are rooted in faith and love of Christ. It is the Christianity that led Bree Newsome to scale the flagpole and bring down the confederate flag. It is the Christianity of service. Of feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, just as Christ fed the apostles breakfast. Of seeing Jesus in the breadline, as per the Fritz Eichenberg print. Of seeing Jesus’ face in the “other.” Of knowing, in the words of Dorothy Day, that I “only love God as much as love the person I love the least.” It is a Christianity driven by a love that surpasses all understanding.
By Anne N. Duquette