For the Sunday's following Easter we see in Scripture that the resurrected Jesus appears to the apostles and the disciples at the least expected times and places. Today is no different. Peter and 6 of the disciples seem to be going about their usual business as they were fishermen. They were fishing at night and did not catch any fish. At dawn of the new day Jesus appeared on the shore and shouted out to them to cast their nets over to the other side of the boat. So they did as Jesus directed and caught so many fish that they could not bring in the net. When they tried to fish as they thought they knew best they were not able to catch any fish. When they followed the direction of Jesus they were successful. How many times in our life have we gone about our life's everyday activities on own and not been successful? When we follow the direction of God in our life all of a sudden we seem to be more successful. Of course in order to do that we need to be aware that God is in our life, the God cares for us, that God knows the best way. The Gospel goes on to tell us they caught 153 large fish. Some scripture scholars seem to indicate that the number 153 represents the different species of fish known at the time. That number represents that Jesus is here for all people at all times and no one is excluded but rather all are included. When we go about our life on our own terms we seem to be "fishing in the dark"---the disciples went to fish at night ---in the dark. At dawn-at the direction of Jesus they changed their strategy and were successful.
Many times, when Jesus has a message to relate, it is around food and a meal. On the road to Emmaus the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread; at the wedding feast of Cana Jesus performs his first miracle; on Holy Thursday we have Jesus celebrating Eucharist gathering the apostles and their families around the dinner table with the command to "do this in memory of me." So Jesus gathers the disciples around a morning fire for breakfast. Remember Peter's denial---not once but three times? Jesus and Peter once again interact---just the 2 of them. However this time Peter gets it right. Peter tells Jesus in front of the others present that he loves Jesus more than the others; Peter loves Jesus unconditionally; Peter will do anything for Jesus. The wonderful command of Jesus follows: "Feed my lambs and feed my sheep". Our history and church tradition teaches us that Peter was the first Pope and leader of what was to become a world-wide religion. In my view what the hierarchy has developed over 2,000 years does not reflect what Jesus had in mind. I do not know where you get your news. I have cancelled my newspapers and simply read them on-line. It is almost impossible to read any news paper, weekly news magazine, turn on any T.V. and not hear of the sexual assault of children by priests of the Catholic Church. The cancer of sexual assault of children by priests was first reported as a localized cancer in Boston in 2002. However we now know that this cancer has metastasized to the highest levels of the Vatican. Some children who were victims of this cancer, now as adults have committed suicide. For some this cancer has resulted in their death. By a critical reading of the actual history of the church over 2,000 years and the recent history of systemic abuse I feel most would agree that is not what Jesus had in mind with the command-"Feed my lambs and feed my sheep." One feeds another person with nourishment not poison; with hope not abuse; with compassion not toxicity, with love not hatred.
For too long those in authority in the Catholic Church have felt their own concocted "Canon Law" superseded civil law. We all know that arrogant view is wrong. Any priest who sexually assaulted children needs to admit to this felony and be held responsible in civil courts. Any bishop who covered up this felony should also admit his crime of aiding and abetting a felon and be held responsible for his crimes.
In any human relationship it is always important to realize I can not change another person but can only change myself.
At times it is easy for me to step back and look at others to see how THEY have followed Jesus' command. Have THEY followed the mandate of Jesus? What have THEY done to feed and nourish in the way of Jesus those people in their life? Perhaps by sifting through all the language of today I need to not focus on how others have followed Jesus but rather on how I have followed Jesus. Have I instilled in people a deeper sense of the presence of God in my life and in their life or have I led some astray. Have I been the Peter of denial---the Peter who 3 times said he did not know Jesus and wanted nothing to do with him or the Peter of affirmation---the Peter who says to Jesus, "You know that I love you"?
In the end Jesus simply said to Peter, "Follow me". Jesus says the same to us today. In the depths of our soul and the quiet times of our life we need to ask ourselves the question, Am I like the Peter of denial or the Peter of affirmation? We can walk away or we can follow. Jesus says to you this morning and every moment and in every situation you find yourself, "Follow me". Will I follow Jesus and feed and nourish those people in my life? Will you? Or will you and I simply walk away