5-5-2019 3rd Sunday of Easter
May 6, 2019
Easter III / C / 2019
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
On these Sundays after Easter, we read the various Resurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples. Last week, the disciples were in a locked room, fearful of the Jews, when Jesus appeared and said to them, "Peace, be with you." Today, the scene is quite different. The disciples are no longer in Jerusalem. They have returned to Galilee—and they have returned to their former occupation as if nothing happened in Jerusalem. Did they forget about the Resurrection? Are they still fearful? Peter almost sounds bored when he says, "I am going fishing." Has life returned to normal—despite the extraordinary events?
When I think about my own spiritual life, the scene does make some sense. Have you ever had a really powerful religious experience—a retreat perhaps, or a personal encounter with the Lord that made you say, "I’m going to live a better life"? You are filled with fervor, and passion, and a desire for a change. And then your fervor begins to subside, your enthusiasm begins to wane, your desire for change begins melts away. The same seems to be the case with the disciples.
But once again, Jesus takes the initiative. "When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore." When it was already dawn. Do those words sound familiar? "Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week." The words are nearly the same as the Resurrection account. Jesus, the light, piercing the darkness, and bringing life and peace to the world. In the absence of Jesus, it is night; and the disciples caught nothing. Now, with Jesus the light, they have a superabundance. From nothing to everything—the order of creation restored.
But there is still an elephant in the room—a big elephant—and that is Peter’s denial, Peter’s betrayal of Jesus—and not just once, but three times! Jesus will ask Peter to express his love three times—but not just yet. What does Jesus do first? He invites Peter and the others to a meal.
This reminds me of Pope Francis and his call to be "welcoming." Jesus doesn’t stand on the shore and wag his finger at Peter—you sinner! No, he first welcomes him to a fellowship meal, to the Eucharist.
It is then that Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me." The question is also addressed to us as we gather around this altar to share the Eucharist.
With Peter, we recommit ourselves to God and to the Christian life. The same commission is given to us as it is given to Peter: feed my sheep—there is no love of God without service to our brothers and sisters.
And that is the Easter message: through the power of the Eucharist, to follow the risen Lord faithfully, in service, from darkness to light.