Reading these two wonderful Easter Week readings gave me a renewed sense of what we are about during this special week. We have a picture of the "many sides of Peter," which open up for us a reflection upon the "the many sides of you and me."
The gospel begins with Peter deciding to "go back fishing." One side of us is to say, "Okay, I did Lent, I celebrated Easter; not much is changed; now I'm going to return to the life I had before - the life I know best." And, I smiled to see that the others were more than happy to follow Peter's "leadership." Discouragement and backsliding seem to easily draw a crowd.
So, what does Jesus do? He shows them his power - just like he did when he first called Peter - a big catch of fish, really impressing a tired, frustrated fisherman. That's what Jesus is trying to do with us this week. In every way you and I are discouraged, in every way you and I are tempted to not believe Jesus has power in our lives, Jesus is assuring us that he IS alive, and he IS with us, and he can do more than we can imagine for us.
But Jesus isn't going to just wave his power around - now that he's got Peter's attention. He has him bring some of what he caught, and right there on the beach, he says, "Let's have breakfast." Isn't Jesus asking us to bring, recover, something of what we "caught" during Lent and Holy Week and our Easter celebrations, so that he might feed us some more? He wants to "break-Lenten-fast" with us in a different way than our just going back to our pre-Lenten self-indulgence. He wants to feed us with the meaning of his being-alive-ness. Jesus alive means that you and I don't have to live our lives captivated by the power of sin and death. We can live in a new ready-to-be-alive-ness.
The rest of this story - not in today's gospel selection is that Jesus is going to ask Peter if he really loves Jesus - if he can really get over the tendencies and effects of his self-protective denial of him three times. The call, the response that Jesus asks of Peter is to completely get out of himself and do what Jesus did for them - die to himself to become one who can feed others. Isn't this a side of us that Jesus is addressing this week? Isn't he saying to each of us, "I have richly blessed your Lenten journey and your experience of Easter. I have shown you my love and compassion and mercy. You have seen me give you an example in the Eucharist foot-washing. You have re-experienced my suffering and death - for you. Now, please, love others the way I have loved you. Be compassionate, be merciful. Don't feed others with more impatience, crabbiness and selfishness. Feed others with the life you've been given. Feed others with your grateful love."
If we now look at the Acts of the Apostles reading we see Peter on fire. He DOES what Jesus did. He heals. His faith allow Jesus to heal paralysis. Because he himself is alive with the Spirit of Jesus, others who are "stuck" can now move and leap and run. Peter is so "filled with the Holy Spirit" that he can proclaim the Good News, FEARLESSLY. He's been transformed. Jesus-alive is now the CORNERSTONE of his life. He can proclaim what he knows: "There is no salvation through anyone else." Isn't Jesus calling us during this Easter Week to imagine ourselves doing what Jesus did? Isn't he drawing us, attracting us, nourishing the desire in us to long for the coming of his Spirit into our lives at Pentecost?
Instead of going back fishing, we can pray, "Come Holy Spirit, fill
and renew my heart. Enkindle within it the fire of your love.
Then, I will join you in renewing the face of the earth!"
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