THIRD EASTER SUNDAY APRIL 14, 2013
Eastertime directs us to the sacramental life of the church, especially the Eucharist where we encounter the Risen Christ. Eastertime draws us into the heart of Christ in the life of a Three-in-One God in whose intimate relationships we take part.
The night has passed unsuccessfully. Then the dawn revealed a man standing on shore. This stranger advises them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They are swamped with fish. Then John whispers hoarsely, “It is the Lord”. Peter hurls himself into the sea and sloshes his way to the shore – leaving to someone else the job of bringing in the boat.
Jesus has a charcoal fire going with fish on it and bread and invites them, “Come and have breakfast”.
Do they gab nervously or are they silent in the face of this leader of theirs who was dead and now lives?
After breakfast Jesus takes Peter for a walk. Now I want each of you to walk in Peter’s shoes. Jesus speaks to you. What do you hear? Your old tapes might have expected Jesus to say something like: “Do you promise never to betray me again? Will you finally be more modest in your claims? Do you now at long last amend your life? Will you please modulate your vaunted professions of faith? Now do you see why I had to wash your feet? Well, big-mouth?”
No, Jesus utters a simple question to Peter and to you and me. He looks at your face and addresses you by name. “Do you love me more than these?”
What will you say? Give the answer to the Lord even if it isn’t perfect. Put it into words…. Take a moment.
OK. When he hears you answer, listen to him say to you, “Feed my lambs”.
Phew! Thank God the trial is over and we don’t have to deal with such an embarrassing question again.
But he asks you still another time, again by your name, “Do you love me?”
What does the repeated question do to you? Peter became unglued emotionally and said loudly, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!” Our hearts go out to him especially since we are being asked the same question! What is your answer? Take a moment.
…After you answer, Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep”.
But one more time, the gentle but unnerving question comes, while you or I or Peter are still settling our minds and hearts.
Jesus says, “Do you love me?” Let it echo inside you. Hear your name pronounced by him….
Does he really think that you or I do not love him? Well, consider your own daily attitude toward him and toward God. Do not say your answer lightly.
Maybe you said, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you”.
Or do you have another answer? Something like, ‘Lord, you know everything, you know I want to love you, but also I want to have a good life. I live by fear and running away and distraction. I want to love you, but maybe I have not done it yet.”
Jesus answers, “Feed my lambs
We have to stay with it. Think about it. Pray about it.
Richard Rohr, in a recent book, puts it this way:
“Which comes first? Does feeling safe and held by God allow you to deal with others in the same way? Or does human tenderness allow you to imagine that God must be the same, but infinitely so? I do not suppose it really matters where you start; the important thing is that you get in on the big secret from one side or the other.
The big and hidden secret is this: an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. Once you experience such intimacy, only the intimate language of lovers describes what is going on for you: mystery, tenderness, specialness, nakedness, risk, ecstasy, incessant longing and, of course, also suffering.” (R Rohr, “Immortal Diamond”, pp. 164-65)
Love is not easy. During Eastertime we are shown how much God, through the Risen Christ, loves us and asks for our love. This Eucharist is the visible sign of such love.
Fr. Timothy J Joyce, OSB, STL.
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