Daily Reflection
April 16th, 2004
Don Driscoll, S.J.
Theology Department and Chaplain, Pharmacy and Allied Health
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Some years ago several scripture scholars were invited to China to present a two week seminar on the Gospels.  In the final session the participants were asked which of the Gospel stories most touched or inspired them.  The scripture scholars expected responses listing Jesus' birth, one of the miracle stories, or the resurrection.  Instead the overwhelming choice was today's gospel passage from John.  The Chinese students were deeply moved by the scene in which Jesus, the leader, the teacher, is humbly serving breakfast to his disciples.

This passage has always fascinated and delighted me as well.  And I've often wondered why John added this story, when it seemed to me that he had finished his gospel in the previous chapter.  Perhaps John's reason is simply to reaffirm that our vocation is to follow Jesus by humbly serving one another as he did.

Speaking of humility, I once heard of a man who served his parish in hidden ways for years.  He painted, raked leaves, changed screens and storm windows, and did tuck-pointing.  He repeatedly told the pastor that if he were ever acknowledged publicly, that he would cease his volunteer services.  But after 20 years of service, the pastor and parish council brought him up to the altar after the noon Mass one Sunday and presented him with a citation and beautiful medal which read: "To the humblest man in our parish."  However, they took it away from him on the following Monday, because he wore it.

To get serious again, let me say that I'm also deeply moved by the  humility of the disciples.  These were professional fishermen who had labored in vain from dusk till dawn.  Yet when a familiar voice tells them to cast their nets over the right side of the boat, they don't hesitate.  And behold! John states that Peter and his pals haul in the nets filled with fish -- 153 of them with their silver scales flashing in the morning sunlight.  St. Jerome explains that there are 153 different kinds of fish.  He sees John as using this as a symbol meaning that all nations of the world are welcome into the unbreakable net of the Church.  No one is excluded.  All are welcome.

So I pray: Dear Lord, I know that you come to us in the incarnation of caring people.  Help me to be that for others today.  Grant me the grace to lower my nets of fear, resistance, or stubbornness and allow you to 'serve me' with the gifts you've prepared for my nourishment, thus enabling me to fulfill YOUR will today, not mine.   Amen.

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