Third Sunday Easter 2013 Come and Have Breakfast

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here.


My reflections from 2012 on this Gospel are here with one of my favourite images of Jesus, below, waiting on the shore.

The artist is Kristin Serafini and you can click here to read more on her thoughtful insights into this piece, which is titled "Resurrection Breakfast."

The other images of this Gospel below are mainly by James Tissot.

Click here for a wonderful homily called "Dark Night Fishing or Resurrection ?"

James Tissot

These few words are enough.

If not these words, this breath.

If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again

Until now.
Until now.

David Whyte

James Tissot

The video is from film "The Gospel of John" and the story unfolds from about the half way point of today's Gospel reading from " When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread." 
The video uses the phrase "Take care of my sheep", rather than feed My Sheep."
 At the end, it continues a little further on in John's Gospel. 
I like the representation, but the music is a bit too epic / over the top for me. I would have preferred it without any music- the words alone are enough.

From here:

"A reference to Peter's death. Verse 18: "Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." 

It's also a story about Christian conversion: you discover that Christ is living in you and in others, and that your life is really not your own, and it becomes an exciting life. 

Click here for an interesting reflection on "the crisis of limitations." Extract is below:

 The first time that Jesus asks the question “do you love me”, he is using the word “agape”, which is divine, self-giving love that would lay down one’s life for another, which was the earlier claim that Peter made.

 And Jesus asks him “Do you love me more than these?” So he is exactly asking Peter a question related to Peter’s earlier claim that even if all else will let Jesus down, he would not. 

Peter’s reply is “Yes you know I love you”, but he is using the word “fileo”, which is a friendship kind of love. 

The second time Jesus asks the question he is again using the work “agape”, but without the “more than these” phrase. 

 So it’s a bit less of a question around a grand claim, but this still would be a huge claim to make, to love Jesus with the love that would lay down one’s life for him. 

Again Peter answers with the word “fileo”. In these responses it seems that Peter has let go of his grandiosity, and got a bit more in touch with the reality of his limitations, because never once does he reply with the word “agape”, which would have been the grand “lay-down-my-life” claim.

 He replies with the more down-to-earth, honest response. 

Interestingly the third time Jesus asks the question “do you love me”, he is using the word “fileo”, and here he seems to be asking Peter “Do you even love me as a friend?” 

This must have been a very difficult question for Peter to hear, because not only has he failed Jesus as a disciple, but also as a friend.

And Jesus is asking this question three times, a clear link with the number of times Peter denied him. Again this is not done in an accusatory way as much as in a recognition of the reality, inviting Peter into a more honest, vulnerable awareness of who he is, and into a recognition of his shadow side. 

Jesus doesn’t offer “cheap grace” by sweeping it under the carpet, he does not just let Peter deny it or pretend he didn’t do it, but he’s holding Peter’s attention, letting him face it, but all the while in this relational space of deep and profound grace.
 This kind of grace does not leave us stuck in our illusions and kneejerk patterns but shines the light on the reality, and offers us a way through these shadow valleys into truth and freedom.

The brilliance of this has struck me as I’ve reflected on it. Because Peter has had to come to the end of himself in terms of his illusions of his own heroism and greatness. He has been through a serious crisis of limitations and his idealized self has been dismantled. And it’s only in this process of honestly facing these, and then letting the false things go, in dying to his self-constructed identity of being the greatest, mightiest apostle, that he can discover the full meaning of grace, and fall into the true identity of who he is in God. 

This deeper identity of who we are in God is unshakable, because it’s not up to us any more.This identity is a sheer gift from God, and has been there all along, but the awareness of it grows through this process of disillusion with our own attempts at getting it right.

What is also fascinating in this interaction is that Jesus says to Peter, after each question, “Feed my sheep”. Only when we operate out of our deeper true-self identity, rooted in God, connected to the vine, can we really have any true impact on peoples’ lives. As Jesus said in John 15:5 “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 

If we operate from our self-constructed identities we will just be part of the problem, no matter how worthy our actions. But on the other hand, as Richard Rohr says, if we are operating from this true-self identity, rooted to the vine, we can even be a bar-keeper and still be a conduit for God. Only then can we respond to the call: “feed my sheep.”

This is such an important journey for us – to face our shadow sides and allow our illusions about ourselves, our self-constructed identities, to be stripped away. This process is painful and will at times fill us with shame and horror as we face the stark reality of ourselves, but only when we do this will we have the freedom to let go of our own game and fall into the larger spacious identity of who we are in God. 

But we do not have to do this on our own. This story gives us a lovely image of Jesus guiding us through the process, so that when we come to an end of our own attempts, and our pretenses and illusions about ourselves, Jesus tenderly holds us and leads us through this valley of the shadow of death into resurrection, where we discover that God’s work is most profound in those places of brokenness and failure, because we learn that it’s all about God’s grace and action within us, and all we’re called to do is fall back into God and allow our broken and dislocated pieces to be gathered up in the tenderness of this face-to-face encounter with Jesus."
"Follow him," urged the poet W.H. Auden."He is the Way. Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness; You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures. He is the Truth.Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety; You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.He is the Life. Love Him in the World of the Flesh; And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy."

There are some nice reflections on this passage from Auden's poem here.
and the full Auden poem is here.

In John's Gospel there's two charcoal fires: one at the high priest's house around which the servants and Peter to ward off the cold of night; and the one on the beach with Jesus cooking breakfast and extending to his disciples the generosity of a meal, the experience of forgiveness, and an invitation to discover that one's life does not belong to oneself alone. 

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus says: "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" 

(Luke 12:49) T.S. Eliot in "Little Giddings" said that we will be consumed by either fire or fire. 

The two charcoal fires in John show us the two fires: the sacrificial fires, or the fire of the Spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, which is the Spirit of the resurrection. 

One is the fire of the Apocalypse, and the other is the fire of the Kingdom coming. 

 Pope Francis in his homily here at the inauguration of his Papal ministry said :

 " Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus' three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. 

Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). 

Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

and later at The Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday when addressing priests

“The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. The ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter. ” 

“A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say ‘not at all’ because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. 

Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. 

 We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, ‘has already received his reward,’ and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. 

“This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties – instead of being shepherds living with “the smell of the sheep”, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men.”  Full text of Pope's Chrism Mass Homily is here.

One reflection certainly worthy of note, comes from this wonderful man whose example can certainly can tell us what it means " to smell the sheep."
Jean Vanier's interview with Krista Tippett is here and a full length transcript of the interview here.

The way Jesus came into the world gives us a message redolent with meaning of how people from all backgrounds can be united as a body of believers.
Adoration of the Shepherds James Tissot from here

On a lighter note....
 Image source

When Jesus saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.       
Matthew 9:36

   But thankfully, God has good news to tell us sheep.
 For He says:
As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a dark and cloudy day. 
Ezekiel 34:12

Nice reflection here on the Gospel

and another here.

I also like this reflection

"There’s a place in the church for Peter who denied Jesus three times.  A leadership position in fact, because as someone who has known brokenness up close and personal, Peter can be counted on to be tender with the lambs. He will be gentle with those who are in the midst of breaking.

In the New Testament, the church is called the “body of Christ.”  You and me together, we are Christ’s body here on earth.  And that means we have a different attitude towards being broken from that of the world.

Jesus’ body was broken.   Being broken isn’t foreign to us; it is who we are.  We can’t deny it. We are breaking.  Some of us have already known some pretty major breakings.  We know that in the end, we all will be broken.   And this gives us a deep gentleness.   We are tender, because we recognize how fragile we are.

Church is a place for people where its just fine to cry if that’s what you
need to be doing at a given moment to do.  There’s no shame in crying. Jesus wept.  Peter wept.   Weeping is what humans do.

Church is a place where it is entirely appropriate to admit your failure and your sin, to acknowledge your breaking, because we know a God who loves us through it all.
And in the end, the breaking reveals a mysterious goodness to it. The cross of Jesus, the place of his body’s breaking, becomes the sign of an unending love and light. The light shines through best in the broken places."

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