Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)
April 14, 2013
AM LOVIN’ IT: BREAKFAST BY THE SHORE
It’s one of those appearances of the Risen Lord that is sure to get you running for more … Why not? There’s free consultation for discouraged fishermen out on open water all night and catching nothing. They have been casting their net all night long presumably on only one side of the boat and the catch was simply elusive.
They say it is always darkest just before dawn. But when dawn came and the sun’s rays were just about ready to appear in the horizon, someone more than the sun, more dazzling than the sun’s rays, and greater than the sun itself appeared, with some advice: “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”
They did haul in more than they could handle. But there was something else they were not prepared to handle with ease – the sight of the Risen Lord! However, the disciples who were too focused on the catching and on the catch itself were caught off-guard with the sudden realization of the youngest apostle that they had more than just unsolicited advice from some helpful guy. The young guy told the older guy: “It is the Lord!”
And that was when all the action began … with a commotion! Peter dove right into the water, not before putting on some decent clothes! The excitement was too much to carry, the joy of the unexpected vision of the Lord come from the dead, and the exhilaration brought about by an unexpected windfall from the haul of fish, too much to ignore. All hands were on deck to deal with the situation that had them all scampering for what to do. The disciples lost no time hauling the catch ashore. The head of the disciples lost no time in drawing near to the Lord whom he now recognized.
But if you think that being invited to a filet-o-fish, all-you-can-eat breakfast is a treat without equal, just wait till you hear what happens next. There on the shore, over free breakfast that anyone would surely love more than McDonald’s, the big test and the big commissioning took place.
It was a case of the Chairman of the Board calling the CEO to task, telling his right hand most trusted man what being witnesses to his dying and rising would be all about.
This is the point when the statement “Lab ko ‘to” (Am lovin’ it) becomes much more personal and pointed. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” But there was more than enough time to ask the question not once but thrice. This was no ordinary fact-finding query. This was a test of a lifetime, a test that had nothing to do with business-as-usual, and merely being a passive witness to something as mysterious as it is great. This was a test of commitment and personal dedication, not to an idea or concept, but to His person. “Do you love me more than these?” “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.”
A free lunch or breakfast won’t send me running repeatedly to the donor, and running for a cause. A free meal would call me to gratefulness, but not to a commitment of allegiance to anyone. But a call to love coupled with a passing on of a task said repeatedly would send anyone raring to deliver and perform, not for merely a God-idea but for God Himself.
Miguel de Unamuno, I think it was, who said that anyone who claims to love God but feels no passion running through his veins is really in love only with the God-idea, and not with God Himself.
The Risen Lord is not a phantasm. He ate breakfast with them. The Risen Lord is not just an idea. He had concrete advice to tell them, to lower the nets on the right side of the boat. The Risen Lord is not just a pious thought. He asks Peter to do work for him … He tells him to tend and feed his sheep.
Last week, we reminded ourselves what loving the Risen Lord is all about. It was all about, not simply rolling away stones of unbelief and stones of indifference. It is all about living lives that are carried away by love for Him and passionate commitment to everything He stood for.
It is nice to be invited to breakfast by the shore. We sure are going to love it and we will keep on running for more. But Peter and the other disciples had more than just fish to run after … The sight of the Risen Lord had them hauling more than just fish from the Sea of Galilee.
Represented by Peter, who was told to feed the sheep, all of us who call ourselves followers and disciples and witnesses of the Risen Lord, can no longer simply love in the abstract. We need to get out of that breakfast meeting with the same passion to tend, care for, and feed the Lord’s sheep, while smelling very much like the sheep, as Pope Francis advises all who call themselves shepherds after the Lord’s heart.
In the meantime, merely saying “am lovin’ it” won’t suffice. We need to do two things: love the Lord above all, and do his bidding, and become the shepherd he wants us all to be – like Peter, like unto the Lord Himself, the Good Shepherd. Then, there’s more to being Christians than just giving away free filet-o-fish sandwiches by the seashore.