3rd Sunday of Easter 2019
May 6, 2019
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Most of the time – we don’t get a second chance – when we make a mistake in life.
Yet - in today’s gospel – Jesus gave the apostles exactly that – the gift of a second chance.
Note - that the apostles were going back to the business they knew - fishing - as if nothing had really changed in their lives - their belief in the Resurrection – hadn’t yet taken hold on their lives.
They needed a revival – and as witnesses to the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus - Jesus gives them just that.
Maybe – for us – Lent and Easter Sunday were a time of renewal in Christ – our faith was strengthened - and now – we are in the third week of Easter and starting to run out of steam.
There are two moments in the gospel that can speak to us – the meal and the mission.
First - the meal. We don’t know what the apostles discussed with Jesus – at that meal on the seashore. It must have reminded them of many meals they had shared with him over the past three years – the meal on the mountainside after the multiplication of loaves, the meal at the house of Matthew with all those tax collectors – the Passover meals and - of course - the Last Supper when Jesus gave them a way that he would remain with them and prayed for them.
Now - here on the seashore – after the Resurrection – all that came back to them.
Here was a second chance to renew their union with Christ.
At Mass – we renew our union with Christ. It reminds us of other Masses in our life: our first Holy Communion – Confirmation – Wedding – other Easter and Christmas Masses – funerals – and special Masses. Here - the Lord speaks to us again – teaches us again – joins us to each other again - around the altar - as he gives us his own self again. We need the constant renewal - that the Eucharist offers.
We need Mass every Sunday to renew our identity as disciples – to be close to Christ - and to remember who we are - because so much in life - pulls us away from Christ.
Each Mass is always a second chance to remember and revive our identity as disciples. That’s what Jesus did for the apostles at the seashore and that’s what he does for us at every Mass.
Then – there is the mission. Jesus takes Peter aside and asks three times – “Do you love me?” to reverse Peter’s threefold denial. A wonderful forgiveness is happening here. This is something Peter could not do for himself. Notice that each time Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” - and Peter answers, “I do,” Jesus responds by saying, “Feed my sheep.” Peter would show that love - not by more words of love - but by deeds of love – by feeding the sheep and caring for Christ’s flock.
Remember the musical from years ago, My Fair Lady – the story about a young girl from the poor area of London being taught to speak sophisticated English. A subplot in the story is a young man’s love for her. He speaks romantic words - but never makes any commitment to her.
She sings a song called “Show me” with the words Words, words, I’m so sick of words. I get words qll day through. Don’t talk of stars burning above, if you’re in love show me. Tell me no dreams filled with desire, if you’re on fire, show me. Sing me no songs, read me no rhymes, don’t waste my time, show me.
For Peter – love for Christ would mean - caring for the whole flock – and Peter will do exactly that for the rest of his life. We are called to care for a portion of that flock – a parish – a family – children – a spouse – an aging parent – people at work – those for whom the Lord is calling us to care now. Like Peter – we show our love for the Lord – not by what we say – but by caring for others – feeding their minds – souls – bodies.
Jesus is saying to Peter and to us – “Show me.”
That’s what Jesus gives us at each Mass - in our own way. We have the Eucharist – the sacrament and sacrifice of Christ where we have the second chance to renew ourselves - as followers of Jesus – to renew our commitment to the good of the Church by feeding the sheep of Christ in our life – to receive the grace - for our own personal witness to Christ.
The final truth about Peter and the apostles is not their abandonment of the Lord - but the fact - that they were given a second chance - and used it magnificently. Hopefully - the final truth about us will not be found in our departures from the Lord - but in how we have used our gifts of a second chance from Christ.