Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Easter

Posted: Sun, 01 May 2022 09:38

Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Easter

Today our gospel takes us back to Galilee—in John's gospel, the disciples return to familiarity and security, and go back to their old jobs as fishermen. Rather like the Ukrainians fleeing from their homeland, as they see death and destruction all around, there is still a strong desire to return home—they do not want to be refugees, they want, and have a right, to be happy and content in their own home. Peter and the Apostles leave the trauma of lockdown on Jerusalem to the safety and freedom of their homeland.

John narrates a beautiful encounter of shyness, hope, trust and acceptance. The stranger on the shore asks the fishermen to try something different in their needed desire to catch new fish. We can all identify with that strategy of Jesus: these past few years have forced us to honestly re-evaluate what it means to be Church. We have been forced to experiment and reject the all too common Church mantra: 'but we have always done it this way!' On trying this new way, the disciples catch a huge haul, and they realise who this stranger is.

With his typical spontaneity, Peter jumps into the water to greet the Lord—even though he is not fully dressed. Sometimes we are called to do silly and daft things in our desire to follow the gospel—never be afraid of your own spontaneity also! The breakfast scene is a wonderful guide and support to us in a real pastoral approach to ministry. Jesus does not sit them down to a lecture or a series of spiritual exercises—they have been out working hard all night and they need feeding up. This is the beauty of Christian ministry: there has to be a concern for the whole person.

The catechesis comes once Peter and his friends have eaten. Our ministry must be there for everyone, especially in the most challenging of circumstances. Sometimes we have to feed the body before we can feed the heart and mind. The lessons we have learnt, especially during the pandemic, must help us through the new and exciting road ahead. Pope Francis reminded us in the height of lockdown:

We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. (27/03/2022)

It is precisely in that spirit of comfort and support that we see the touching encounter between Jesus and his good friend, Peter. This friend, who had promised everything at the Last Supper, denied knowing Jesus not just once, but three times for good measure. In their encounter, Jesus places Christian service within the context of love and reconciliation. The three rejections of Peter are matched by his triple promise to offer unconditional love. Even in the darkest of days, The Resurrection points us towards the light, hope and salvation. The forgiveness of Jesus is a gift that we can all bask in today: no matter what our faults, the Lord is saying to each of us, 'do you love me—then serve and help others.' The call to Peter and the entire Church is a call to be involved and to never be detached. The American mystic, Thomas Merton helps us to realise this ideal and to offer true love—we can only try our best:

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (No Man is an Island)

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Image: Magnus Lindvall on Unsplash

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