Our Lord Appears to Peter after His Resurrection.
Endeavor to realize the keen sorrow and contrition of the prince of apostles during the days that witnessed our Lord’s Passion. His tortured heart was at one time overwhelmed with a storm of anguish and distress on account of the sad fate of his beloved Master; then again a tempest of grief swept over his soul, at the thought that he had denied that Master, and by his denial had added to and aggravated His sufferings. And now Christ was really dead and laid in the grave without his ever having had an opportunity of throwing himself at His feet in an agony of sorrow and repentance and hearing from His lips words of pardon and forgiveness. Night had of a truth closed in upon the apostle’s soul, a night dark as the grave; yet suddenly a star of hope rises, the sorrowing penitent sees a ray of light amid the gloom; the tidings are brought him: the Lord is risen from the dead.
1st. Immediately Peter hastens to the sepulchre to ascertain for himself whether this announcement is true, and perhaps, as he hopes, even to see the risen Saviour with his own eyes. But his wish is not to be fulfilled so speedily. He does indeed find the grave to be empty, he finds that the body of Jesus is no longer there, but he does not see his beloved Master in person. Yet Mary, the Virgin-Mother, has already seen Him; He has also shown Himself to Mary Magdalen the penitent, and even the other women have beheld Him. How is it that Peter, the greatest, the chief of the apostles, is not yet privileged to enjoy that signal happiness? We need not search long for the reason. By their fidelity, their love, the sympathy they evinced for their crucified Lord, Mary and Magdalen and the devout women deserved to see their risen Lord sooner than the apostle who denied all knowledge of Him. Ponder that, my soul, and remember whenever our Lord delays to come to you with His consolations, His grace, His succor, if He does not impart them to you as soon as He does to others, seek the primary cause in yourself; ask yourself seriously whether you have acted so as to deserve that the Lord should draw near to you in His compassion and loving kindness; whether you have been as faithful to Him in the days of prosperity as you would have Him be to you in the season of adversity.
2d. Consider with what feelings Peter stood in our Lord’s presence when the latter actually appeared to him. Must he not have fallen at the feet of his risen Master, overcome by an excess of contrition and grief? confessing his fault with floods of tears and earnestly imploring pardon? Must he not have acknowledged himself to be quite unworthy that our Lord should condescend to appear to him? Must he not for ever afterwards with warmest gratitude have remembered the extreme kindness wherewith Jesus in His charity received the disciple who had denied Him? Reflect, my soul, on your part whether such should not be the sentiments animating your heart whenever our Lord appears to you with His grace, especially in Holy Communion; whether you also like this apostle ought not to weep over the sins which have rendered you unworthy that our Lord should visit you; whether you ought not to acknowledge and confess in all humility that you are far more deserving of the just chastisements of your God than of His pardoning love.
3d. Consider that Peter immediately hastened to seek out his fellow apostles, to proclaim to them the joyful tidings of Christ’s resurrection and thereby to confirm their faith, as our Lord commissioned him to do. This is one characteristic of holy, magnanimous souls, that they do not desire jealously to keep the graces, the consolations wherewith God favors them all for themselves; they feel urged to share them with others; they long for nothing more ardently than to lead many, nay, all their brethren to Christ, that they too may rejoice in His graces and His blessings. As there is no saint who does not prize his own soul above everything else, so there is no saint who does not love the souls of others as he loves his own. Is it so with you? Are you like Peter, who hastens to give joy to others and to confirm them in the faith?
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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