Homily for April 1st, 2016: John 21:1-14.
AHave you caught anything?@ Jesus calls out from the shore at dawn to his friends in their boat. What he really said was: AYou haven=t caught anything, have you?@ Jesus was poking fun at their lack of success in the one thing they were supposed to be good at: catching fish. Not once in the gospels is there any record of Peter and his friends catching a single fish without Jesus= help. Here that help is the command to try again. They do so – and at once they feel the net heavy with fish. One of those in the boat tells Peter: AIt is the Lord.@ It is the unnamed Adisciple whom Jesus loved.@ Peter and the others hurry ashore and find a charcoal fire with fish on it, and bread. Knowing that they would be hungry after their long night=s labor, Jesus has made breakfast for them.
Did Peter recall another charcoal fire, at night, in the courtyard of the High Priest=s house at
, where Peter stood warming himself?
APeter was distressed,@ we heard in the gospel, because Jesus
asked his question a third time. Of course he was distressed! The memory of his
three-fold denial at that other fire was painful. Peter=s thrice repeated assurance of love
is his rehabilitation. In response to each pledge of love, Jesus assigns Peter
responsibility: to feed Jesus= sheep. Jerusalem
Why did Jesus give this responsibility to Peter, of all people? Jesus gave the office of leader to the friend whose love was imperfect; whose impetuosity and weakness made the name Jesus gave him C Peter, the rock C as ironic as calling a 350-pound heavyweight ASlim.@
Is there someone here today who feels weak? You have made so many good resolutions. Some you have kept, others not. You have high ideals. Yet time and again you have compromised. You had so many dreams, hopes, plans. How many have you achieved? You wanted so much. You have settled for so little. If that is your story, you have a friend in heaven. His name is Simon Peter.
If, like Peter, you have discovered that you are weak, that command is reassuring. Jesus doesn’t ask you to be strong, for he knows your weakness. He doesn’t ask you to be a pioneer or a leader. He knows that is too hard: that you would soon lose your way C or at least your nerve. He asks one thing alone. He asks you to follow him.
Following Jesus Christ is not always easy. If you know your weakness, however, you have an advantage over those who still think they are strong. Then you will trust, as you try to follow your Master and Lord, not in any strength of your own, but only and always in the strength of Jesus Christ. His strength is always reliable; and it is always available. We have only to ask, and Jesus is there.