A Homily – The Gospel of John 20:1-19 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.04.10

 

Look After My Sheep

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,

when you were young

you put on your own belt

and walked where you liked;

but when you grow old

you will stretch out your hands,

and somebody else will put a belt round you

and take you where you would rather not go.’

 

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

(NJB)

Caretaking is the Christian Mission – And there is No Other

 

What does it mean to be a Christian?

To be a member of the body of Christ?

What does it mean to be a disciple?

To be a student in the school of faith?

 

In the reading for today there are miracles and visions, there are portents and prophecies, but most significantly, toward they end; there is a moment of instruction.

Jesus is with Peter; Simon by his given name. They are sitting together after breakfast in a moment of earnest talk. Jesus knows that he is handing over the leadership of his movement to this man with whom he often disagreed. Jesus had rebuked him severely; calling him Satan, the enemy. Peter had abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and denied him in front of crowds of people. Despite those failings, or perhaps because of what Peter had learned from them; Jesus spoke to him in a loving manner. He beseeched Peter to in turn be just as loving toward the community that would grow from the seeds of faith…of trust, that the two of them had planted.

In the same way that Jesus had rebuked Peter three times, in the same way that Peter had denied Jesus three times, Peter now confessed hi love for Jesus three times, and issued the following commission three times:

Feed my lambs. Look after my sheep, Feed my sheep.

If Jesus gave Simon a new name; Peter, the rock, as an indication that he has been given the responsibility of establishing the foundation of the church that is to come, then the injunction given here is meant to establish the foundation of the Christian mission: caring, feeding, loving.

Whoever does these things, follows Christ.

3rd Sunday of Easter

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