Today is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, 16 years ago. It is also Father John’s anniversary of thirty-three years. I find our Liturgy today to be particularly inspirational on this anniversary day. First we have Saint Paul who is standing trial for his witness and preaching of the faith. Then we have Peter, who is going through his own sort of trial, wrestling with his guilt of having denied Jesus three times. Jesus gives him the opportunity three times to profess his love, and experience his mercy. Then we have Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, 22 Ugandan martyrs who were young people killed by the Bagandan ruler Mwanga, who insisted they give in to his immoral demands or face death.
The inspiration of the martyrs and Apostles inspires my own zeal for the priesthood and living the faith. We might never be in the situations they had to endure, we might never be killed for the faith, but we are all called to be willing to die for it. Frankly, if we are not willing to die rather than abandon the faith, we have to ask if we are really fully invested in our relationship with Jesus. He certainly gave his life for us, and so it is incumbent on each of us to lay down our lives and sacrifice in our own way to live the Gospel.
And so perhaps today we look at our own failures in our relationship with the Lord. Jesus says to us, “Do you love me more than these?” And to our response, he says, “Feed my sheep.” Witnessing to what is right and good is often inconvenient, and for those like Saint Charles and Jesus’ disciples, sometimes dangerous. But that is what disciples do. That is our ministry, the work to which we have all been called.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!