|Image source: Karen Anne Graeser at CES|
Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter
(Readings for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
The scene just before this story in today’s gospel
is the one we heard last Sunday
where the disciples, afraid for their lives,
were huddled together behind locked doors.
You’ll remember that the risen Jesus appeared to them
and Thomas became a believer.
Although the gospel doesn’t tell us, that must have been enough
for the fearful disciples to come out of hiding and –
well you can see what they did: they went back to work.
They were fishermen and they made their way back to “the office,”
-- back to the seashore.
Just days before this, their friend Jesus:
was acclaimed by the crowds with palm branches;
celebrated Passover as his last supper;
was betrayed by one of his closest followers;
was arrested, tried, and falsely found guilty;
was abandoned by his friends;
was mocked and tortured and crucified;
died; was buried; rose from the dead;
and appeared to his friends.
And after all this Peter says, “I’m going fishing.”
And we’ve pretty much done the same: in our prayer, song and worship.
Over the last couple of weeks
we’ve told and remembered and celebrated
the story of the last days of Jesus
and his suffering and death and resurrection.
And now we’ve gone back to work
or gone back to our day-to-day routine, whatever that might be,
whether we’re working or going to school,
whether we’re unemployed or retired.
We went back to business-as usual.
But the comparison between this gospel and our lives doesn’t end there.
As Jesus was standing on the shore, watching the disciples fish,
he’s been standing near each of us:
as we go off to work, off to school; as we continue a job hunt;
as we get ready for April vacation; as we keep our homes;
as we pass the days and nights of retirement…
Whatever our lot in life, whatever waters we sail or fish,
Jesus is standing on the shore, watching us,
caring for us even when we’ve forgotten him,
even when we’re totally oblivious to his presence --
he’s there, watching out for us...
And, as he did for his disciples on the shore,
he offers us his word, his counsel, his wisdom.
Sometimes his advice is simple, even if it’s difficult.
Sometimes his wisdom is common sense.
Sometimes his counsel is simply, “Hang in there. Try again.”
Isn’t that precisely the advice he offered his friends
whose nets were empty after a night of fishing?
“Try again. Try fishing from the other side of the boat. Try!”
Might we not imagine in our prayer how Jesus stands
on the shore of our lives, of our work, of our days and nights?
Isn’t it possible that the best answer to some of our problems
might be the simplest one – even if that’s the hardest one?
Jesus, who stands on the shore of our everyday lives,
Jesus wants to help us but more than that
he wants to be close to us and for us to be close to him.
He cooked up some breakfast on the beach for his disciples
and called them ashore to share what he had prepared for them.
Might we wonder:
what is Jesus preparing for you and for me?
Do we make the time to “come ashore” and join him on the beach?
Do we make time to leave work, leave the fishing,
and spend some time with him?
And, just as he did with Peter, Jesus looks into our eyes,
he looks into our hearts and he asks each one of us:
“Do you love me?”
I might answer, nervously, “Well, sure…”
And he asks again,
“But do you love me?”
And I might say, “Well, yes – that’s what I just said.”
But Jesus doesn’t tire of hearing of our love and so he asks again,
“Do you love me?”
And it might take three times or more
before we can answer from our hearts,
“Yes, Lord, I love you.
Even if I don’t always show it, I love you.”
And as he told Peter, he tells us:
“Then show me your love. Do something with your love for me.
Care for others. Tend to others’ needs. Feed others’ hungers.
If you love me, follow me.
Stay close by my side as I stay close by yours…”
Since Easter we’ve gone back to school, back to work, back to our homes.
And on the shores of our lives, Jesus stands there
watching over us, calling to us, offering us his counsel,
preparing something to share with us
and calling us to draw near to him, asking us if we love him.
At this table, the Lord not only feeds us,
he nourishes us with his life, his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Even if we’ve already forgotten the story of his suffering and death,
the sacrifice of the Cross is offered for us here on the altar:
his Body broken again for us, his Blood poured out again for us.
Here, in this place, he stands on the shore of our lives
and asks us, each of us,
“Do you love me?”
And we tell him, “Yes, Lord, we love you.”
And he says,
“Then care for one another – and follow me…”
And just in case you'd like to sing this one more time...
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