3rd Sunday of Easter (C)
April 22, 2007

Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 / Rv 5:11-14 / Jn 21:1-19


We smell and feel a sense of power in the readings of today. Peter, who, only days before appeared to be a weakling who could not even stand for the truth about his association with the condemned Jesus, is portrayed as someone who just had what we now call an “extreme makeover.” Expressly forbidden by the Sanhedrin to teach in Jesus’ name, Peter bellowed courageously: “We must obey God rather than men” (1st Reading).

Power also unmistakably shines out in John’s vision of the victorious Lamb “seated” on his throne. Countless angels surround the Lamb to give witness to, and proclaim the reality of his power: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing” (2nd Reading).

Quiet strength and discrete power characterize the Risen Lord who invited himself and the weary fishermen-disciples to an early morning beach-side repast. He issues a series of commands to the sleepless and tired disciples whom he endearingly refers to as “children:” “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something” (Gospel). The unexpected morning repast turned out to be – you guessed it right – a “power breakfast” as management gurus would call their version of an early morning “business meeting.”

Quiet and sedate power from the Risen Lord takes the better of the disciples’ extreme weariness and apparent powerlessness. That simple command, which was as dignified as it was quietly compelling, turned out, indeed, to be a power catch. We are told that Peter and company had to muster all the strength they could put together, in order to haul a startling catch of 153 large fishes! Even the net rose to the occasion and showed corresponding strength and power: “Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.”

But two other quiet commands came by way of an invitation to a “power breakfast:” “Bring some of the fish you just caught … Come, have breakfast.”

Like when he was face-to-face with Pilate and the Jews all throughout his trial, all the way to his crucifixion and death, the Lord shows himself fully in control. He shows quiet power and inner strength. His was a compelling presence that led the probably tired, sleepy, and discouraged disciples, to do even the unthinkable – to lower their nets once again for the nth time, when common sense and common practice told them to fold up their wares and come back for a more propitious night of fishing.

Three quiet commands showed the power that emanated from the Risen Christ. One cannot help but see a reverse parallelism of these three commands to the three denials of a power-stripped Peter who chickened out at the last minute and denied his Master and Lord before powerless but nosey women at the courtyard.

I would like to go straight to the point today. The resurrection of the Lord is all about who really has the power. The resurrection is all about Him, who, in the words of Perry Como of old, is one who “can turn the tides and calm the angry sea.” The resurrection of the Lord is all about who really is in control, who can reverse even seemingly hopeless and irreversible situations.

Today, we are witnesses and, hopefully, proclaimers of this glaring truth. Christ is risen. And with the Risen Christ rises, too, our lost faith in ourselves, our jaded hopes, and battered lives, whose fabric may have been torn and tattered by so many challenges and so much self-inflicted problems and pains.

I would like my readers (and hearers) to know that I have done a Peter more than just a few times in my life. I, too, have denied the Lord repeatedly. My faith in those occasions was more like the dying embers of a once-blazing fire that warmed my own heart – and that of others. That fire was once the source of power from within. It led me to courageous creativity in my younger, more productive years. It led me to blaze trails and to spend sleepless nights trying to figure out how to increase the figurative catch in the dark of night. Who among us who are members of the baby-boomer generation in middlescence cannot boast of their own “been there; done that” syndrome?

But alas! The fire that warmed my hands was the same fire that burnt my fingers. I felt rejection. I saw disapproval and heard disparaging remarks, mixed with a slew of envy and jealousy, along with a certain inner drivenness and ambition, and growing anger filling my heart.

Power was slowly wearing me down. Power became my very tripping stone. And power was the very cause of my own undoing. Like Peter, who came near the fire, he warmed his hands, and burnt his fingers. Nay more, it ironically cooled down his attachment and devotion to the Lord. Worse off than Peter, I, too, have denied the Lord more than just three times.

Today is resurrection day. Every Sunday is meant to be that. But it could only be resurrection for you and me, only if we all see truly ourselves for whe we are, and things for what they really are. That was what Peter experienced. The power of the resurrection made him see himself truly – naked and unworthy – in such a way that he felt it proper to put on some clothes to face the Risen Lord. His three denials merited undoing … in grief, in conversion, in fully loving. The embers that undid him the first time around amidst those nosey women, are now the burning coals that made him rise to the occasion and warm up to the Lord in the fullness of love: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” The threefold denial became threefold witness and proclamation. That “power breakfast” by the beach became the benchmark to his total and humble service to the Risen Lord and his mystical body – the Church.

I pray that this “power breakfast” with the Lord – this Eucharist – will translate for you as it did for Paul, a real “extreme makeover” in your life. With Paul and Peter, I proclaim: “All I want is to know Christ, and to experience the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10).

Paranaque City, April 17, 2007
11:30 AM