|The Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41
Psalms 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
John 21:1-19 or 21:1-14
We see the two faces and phases of Peter the Apostle in today’s readings. First we see the “after” and then a story of the “before.” With Peter, as with many later followers of Jesus, we see a person who lived into his future by having hope in his past.
We usually consider Hope to be a virtue about the future, but in order to embrace the future there has to be some blessing, some holding of the past as having been a grace. Resurrection or Easter Hope celebrates God’s total embrace of our time-bound lives. God is constantly laboring to bring order and revelation out of our temporal chaos.
The Apostles are in action again during our First Reading today. Peter and the others have been charged not to speak in the Lord’s name lest there be some kind of uprising. Peter’s response is his further speaking about the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They are released, but charged again to stop speaking His Name.
This is a scene of the “after,” the post-Resurrection Peter who has found his voice and courage by being found himself by the resurrected Jesus. He knows well who he is and who he was before his own resurrection. He lives with his past, because he accepts his being caught by Jesus.
The Gospel is the “before.” Peter is pictured as reverting to his old ways by going back to his profession of fishing. The others say they will go with him. They are all going back to their “before.”
They fish and catch nothing all night. Night or dark in John’s Gospel is the symbol for evil, betrayal and fruitlessness. At dawn Jesus appears on the shore, the earth and asks them how they have done apart from Him. They acknowledge their condition and Jesus invites them back to fruitfulness in the light. It dawns on them Who this person is and so we see Jesus laboring again to bring life and hope to the earth as they race to meet Him on shore.
The reckoning is about to take place, or is it not more a beckoning? Jesus does the inviting to breakfast and offers them fish and bread. There is the charcoal fire and Peter has to remember his “before” at the charcoal fire where he denied Jesus three times. The past is leading him to this presentation of Jesus’ love. There seems to be no pointing-of-fingers except towards the future. Peter’s “before” was in the dark; his future is the light of faith. “Follow Me” is Jesus’ response to Peter’s affirmation that He does love Jesus enough to let go of the “before” and walk into the “after,” though where exactly this will lead him, he does not know.
An aspect of maturity, for Peter as well as for us who follow him, is the “showing up” with our pasts in hand. We believe that Jesus embraces us as He finds us. Peter had to look backwards so as to walk forwards. The shore was where time and tide waited for this man to not dissolve into a puddle of shame and the Rock would become a pile of sand. Peter allows himself to be found in his truth and hopes that Jesus can labor in his life to bring him into a fruitful future.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ showing up and inviting us to
follow Him in doing the same. We stand on various shores with our
pasts in our hands and hearts and minds. Easter happens when we experience
His acceptance of our pasts and His invitation to continue showing up for
our futures. We, WHO FOLLOW Peter who follows Jesus, continue speaking
His name in all the ways we “show up.”
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