Acts 5:28-32, 40b-41; Rev. 5:11-14; Jn. 21:1-19
All the three readings of today speak of loyalty to Jesus. Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles echoed the loyalty of the disciples of Jesus. The Apostles were taken before the Council and condemned for continuing to preach in the Name of Jesus. Prior to this event, they had been warned not to spread the teachings of the Lord Jesus in the Temple. As leader of the Apostles Peter spoke up boldly before the council. "We must obey God rather than any human authority." Peter said, "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." Because of their steadfast loyalty to the Lord Jesus, the Apostles were flogged and then released.
During today's reading from the Gospel of John Jesus asked Peter on three different occasions, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" And three times, Peter affirmed his loyalty to Jesus, promising to serve Him, even to death. The Lord's threefoldquestion that demanded a threefold profession of love from Peter was in response to Peter's threefold denial. Undoubtedly, Peter knew that he was being reminded that on three past occasions, he denied knowing Jesus.
There are many stories in the bible that show that loyalty will always be rewarded. The story of Shadrach Meschach, and Abednego from the Bible book of Daniel tells us of three Jewish boys who refused to bow down to the King of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar.
The three men grew wise and respected as high appointed officials in Babylon. Other Babylonian officials who were jealous of the Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were able to get King Nebuchadnezzar to command that all people bow down to a golden statue. When the three men refused to bow down and worship the idol and god of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had faith that God would save them. When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire he saw four men walking around in the furnace unharmed - Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, and the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzar brought the young men out of the flames, promoted them to a higher office, and decreed that the God of Israel be worshipped.
Loyalty is one of the most important traits a person can have in life. Alongside kindness, empathy, and strength, loyalty is one of the things that determine whether or not a person is worthy to be called a friend. The importance of loyalty impacts us all – from our personal to our professional relationships.
Loyalty lets people know that you want them in your life and that they are precious to you. To achieve this, it's important your loyalty towards them is recognized. The first step toward this goal is being honest and trustworthy.
Peter was loyal in the face of tests. It was difficult for him and the other apostles. But they remained firm. Jesus questioned Peter thrice. Jesus wanted to emphasize Peter’s role to love and take care of the sheep as a responsible shepherd.
The story of Hachiko is one of the most famous stories of loyalty. In fact, so great is his story that he is considered to be a national hero in Japan! Eizaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University, adopted an Akita dog named Hachiko. The professor was also known to have treated Hachi just like his own son.
Hachi and the professor become so close that Hachi would see his owner off to work in the morning at the Shibuya Train Station, and was also there waiting for him in the afternoon when the professor came back from work.
On May 21, 1925, Hachi was waiting for his owner to return from work, but he never did. Unfortunately, the professor had suddenly died while at work from a cerebral hemorrhage. However, Hachi continued to go back to the train station every morning and afternoon at the exact same times, just as he did with the professor until he himself passed away close to the station in 1935. Hachiko also has a statue, placed in front of Shibuya train station, in honor of his loyalty and love toward his beloved owner.
Being loyal to those around you can be a challenge, as it requires patience and generosity. Loyalty is the ability to put others before yourself and stick with them in good times and bad. This is what Jesus demanded from his disciples and this is what Jesus demands from us today.