Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter C 4/14/13

Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter C                4/14/13

This was the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

Last Sunday, we read in the Gospel about the second appearance of the Risen Jesus to a gathering of his disciples. That appearance took place the Sunday night after Easter Sunday, when Jesus appeared to doubting Thomas and the other Apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

The Risen Lord appeared suddenly to the Apostles – and then disappeared just as suddenly it seems.  The Risen Jesus never says “I will see you guys next Tuesday at such and such a place at such and such a time.” He shows up when they least expect it, and leaves when they least expect it as well.  Perhaps Jesus wants to give them time to process everything, let it sink in.

“So now what do we do?” the apostles must have asked themselves those first few weeks after Easter.  “Well, both Jesus and the Angel told the women to tell the brothers to go to Galilee, where they will see Him.”  So the Apostles leave Jerusalem and head back to the region of Galilee, 80 miles or so to the North.

They must have visited their old haunts, maybe going to Capernaum where Jesus lived and preached for quite some time, maybe also going to Nazareth where Mary still had her home, maybe even stopping by Cana to see that married couple Jesus was friends with, and having a glass of wine or two with them!

But Jesus is nowhere to be found; nor has he appeared to anyone in all of Galilee.

The days go by, and Peter, getting a little antsy hanging around the house with his mother-in-law, decides to go fishing.  (Maybe it was opening day that day, like it is this weekend!)

So Peter and six other Apostles cast off in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  How many great memories must have flooded through their heads that night!  How they first met Jesus on this lake, how Jesus preached to the crowds on the shore from this very boat, how they would sail from port to port with Jesus, proclaiming the Kingdom with Him, how Jesus more than once calmed the stormy seas before their very eyes.

A lot had changed since last they sailed these waters, but one thing hadn’t changed – the fishing stunk then and it stunk now.   Don’t they stock this Lake?

As the night wears on, the Apostles one by one begin to doze off, but Peter’s unable to sleep.  As the boat gently rocks back and forth, Peter’s failure to catch any fish calls to his mind an even greater failure that he can’t get over – his failure as a disciple, his failure as a friend to Jesus.

And maybe Peter was even thinking of his failure to really be that leader Jesus was calling him to be.    Only six of the ten other Apostles went fishing with him. Maybe the other four, almost half of them, had already lost confidence in Peter’s leadership.  And maybe some of those six who did follow him were starting to have their doubts.

As the night wore on, such discouraging thoughts began to play on him more and more, seem more and more plausible.  “Maybe I should just throw in the towel,” he thought, “just go back to living the life of a common fisherman.

“Maybe James could take my place, or his brother John.  They both once told Jesus they wanted my position, and John especially deserves it more than me anyway – he didn’t deny and abandon Jesus like I did.

“’Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.’  I said that to Him. And I meant it, Jesus, at that moment at least.  I felt so strong at that Supper Table with you that night, surrounded by my brothers in the faith.  My spirit was willing to die for you; but later when I was by that charcoal fire, around that hostile crowd, my flesh became weak and I denied you! I haven’t stopped crying over it since it happened!”

The night wore on, the boat rocked back and forth, the net remained empty, and Peter continued to turn things over and over in his mind.

” I’ve seen him three times so far, and he hasn’t brought it up.  He appeared to me Easter Sunday morning, after I had left the empty tomb.  I was alone, weeping like a baby, and suddenly there he was standing before me.  He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me, then, He was gone.

“And then, in the Upper Room, later that night, and again the following Sunday night.  I was so glad to see him, I wanted to pull him aside, be alone with him again, to tell him . . . but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

“Oh, Jesus, if you can hear me now, please give me a chance to say I’m sorry! Please give me a chance to show you I do still love you, and still want to live and die for you!”

With those hope filled thoughts, Simon Peter drifted off to sleep . . . . when suddenly he was woken up by some commotion on the boat. In the dim light of dawn, Peter opens his eyes and sees the other six apostles pulling hard on the net.

As he rises and walks over to them, John sees him approach, runs up, points to the man on the shore, and says to Peter “It is the Lord!”

Peter’s dark night of the soul is over, he puts on his clothes and jumps into the sea, running over the waters and onto the shore, to affirm, three times, before a charcoal fire, that he loves the Lord, that he will feed and tend Christ’s sheep, that he will gladly stretch out his hands and go wherever Christ wants him to go, that he will, by the power of the Resurrection, follow Jesus, even to the Cross, knowing that all the dark nights of life will give way to the bright dawn of Christ’s Resurrection.

Comments are closed.