Introduction: Today’s Gospel narrative shows us the rehabilitation of Peter, who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas, repented, and then received Primacy in the Church from Jesus. The Gospel also shows us God in search of man, even when man tries to evade Him.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit transformed Peter, whom Jesus had appointed head of his Church, from a man fearful of powerful men into a brave witness to the Resurrection. Peter stands before the Jewish Supreme Court – the Sanhedrin — boldly announcing that he and the others must obey God rather than men. The second reading, taken from Revelation (the Apocalypse), presents John’s vision of the Risen Lord as the glorified “Lamb of God,” enthroned in Heaven. The whole of Revelation is an expression of Christian hope in the Risen Lord. Today’s Gospel tells the post-Resurrection story of our merciful Savior Who goes in search of His band of disappointed and dejected disciples. The incident proves that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances were not mere hallucinations. In the first part of today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to His disciples and gives them a symbol of their mission in a miraculous catch of fish followed by a grilled fish breakfast prepared by Jesus himself. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon where Simon is asked three times whether he loves Jesus, and he answers that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus. The two metaphors used in the story, namely fishing and shepherding, are the duties of the Church in her missionary work. Peter, as a forgiven sinner, is chosen for the quality of his love to serve as leader in a community of brothers and sisters. As his primary mission, Peter is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.
Life messages: We need to open our eyes, ears and hearts wide to see, hear, and experience the Risen Lord coming into our lives in various forms, circumstances and events: 1) The Risen Lord blesses us with success and achievements. We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the Risen Lord behind our unexpected successes, great achievements, promotions at work, miraculous healings, and success in relationships. He is right there in our parties, celebrations and occasions of rejoicing. 2) The Risen Lord is present in our pains and suffering: Acts 9:1-13 tells us how the Risen Lord transformed the life of Saul by pushing him down onto the Damascus road and making him temporarily blind. The same Jesus often visits us in the form of accidents, illnesses, the loss of dear ones, pain and suffering, and problems in relationships. 3) The Risen Lord visits us through our friends and well-wishers: He is present in those who visit us and encourage us in our sad and desperate moments. The Risen Lord visits us in the form of unexpected help from the least expected persons in our dire needs.
4) The Risen Lord is present in our Christian worship: He is present on our altars during the Holy Mass to share His life with us; He is present in the words of Holy Scripture; He is there in the Sacraments and He is there where two or three are gathered in his name (Matthew 18: 20).
EASTER III [C] (Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Rv 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19) Full text
Homily starter anecdote # 1: Do you love me? Fiddler on the Roof is a musical by Sheldon Harnick which had 3000 Broadway performances. It is based on the book Tevye and his Daughters by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters who owned a milk business, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. Finally, he had to move out of his village because of the edict of the reigning Tsar who evicted the Jews from their village. There is a very tender and moving scene in the play, Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye and his wife Golda are being forced to move from their home in Russia. One day Tevye comes into the house and asks his wife, “Golda, do you love me?” “Do I what?” “Do you love me?” Golda looks at him and then responds: “Do I love you? With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town, you’re upset, you’re worn out, go inside, go lie down, maybe it’s indigestion.” Tevye interrupts and asks the question, “Golda, do you love me?” Golda sighs as she looked at him and says, “Do I love you? For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cows. After 25 years, why talk of love right now?” Tevye answers by saying, “Golda, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared, I was shy, I was nervous.” “So was I,” said Golda. “But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other,” Tevye continued, “and now I’m asking, Golda, do you love me?” “Do I love him?” Golda sighs. “For 25 years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, 25 years my bed is his! If that’s not love, what is?” “Then you love me?” Tevye asks. “I suppose I do!” she says. “And I suppose I love you too!” he says. “It doesn’t change a thing, but after 25 years it’s nice to know.” “Do you love me?” is the same question Jesus is asking Peter in the closing scene of the Gospel of John.
# 2: Running away from the Hound of Heaven: Francis Thompson was an English poet born in 1859 to a wealthy family. His parents wanted him to become a physician like his father, a career that he did not want for himself. He failed the exam three times and finally ran off to London. It is there that Francis Thompson became addicted to opium and lived in destitution. He submitted a poem to a magazine, whose editors, a couple named Wilfred and Alice Meynell, sought out and found Francis and took him in. Despite Francis’ publication of his first work, he still faced tough times. Drug use took a toll on his health and he lived as an invalid in extreme poverty and poor health. Francis had gotten to the point of attempting suicide to escape. In 1892, Francis lived near and received help from a Franciscan community and finally escaped his drug addiction. It was here that The Hound of Heaven was first published in 1893. He died in 1907 at the age of 48 of tuberculosis. Francis understood the Gospel on a level that is often missed or taken for granted. Francis understood that God had been passionately pursuing after him and he could not out run or escape his grasp. The Old Testament describes how God passionately pursues a rebellious people, the Israelites and draws them back into fellowship with Himself. He goes to such length as to enter His creation as Jesus of Nazareth, lives a perfect life of obedience, suffer, die, and rise again. In “The Hound of Heaven,” the speaker runs from God in order to maintain the pleasures of his dissolute life. One can imagine the speaker’s real-life counterpart, Thompson, doing the same as he pursued the groggy pleasures of his opium habit. Finally, he contracted tuberculosis and eventually succumbed to TB, dying a month short of his forty-eighth birthday in a Franciscan monastery. The Hound of Heaven asserts the truth preached by St. Paul : “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). Today’s gospel describes how the Risen Lord goes after and rehabilitates his disciples who abandoned him and decided to go back to their former professions in life. (Visit https://youtu.be/A-EMABK-eHQ for a video summary of the Hound of Heaven).
# 3: Interview for telegraph operator: Fr. Mark Link S.J. once told an incident that happened during the great depression (AD 1929-1939). Jobs were scarce, and when an opening was announced, dozens of applicants applied. On this particular occasion, they crowded into a waiting room, eager to be interviewed for the position of telegraph operator. But the noise of their conversation competed against a steady background of dots and dashes. Suddenly, the door opened and yet another applicant entered the room. After standing there quietly for a moment listening attentively to the dots and dashes, he walked to a door marked “Private” and knocked. The personnel director opened the door and announced to the others, “You may all go now; this applicant has the job.” Furious and frustrated, the others demanded an explanation. At that, the director said, “Listen!” When the room became quiet, all heard the dots and dashes, repeating over and over the same message, “If you hear this, come in; the job is yours.” This story reminds us that God is constantly speaking to us, but, like the crowd of applicants, we are not always listening. Today’s Gospel describes how the Risen Lord reveals himself to his listening and observant apostles through a miraculous catch of fish and then confers on Peter Primacy in the Church.
# 3: The value of a $20 bill: A well-known speaker began a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. He asked the audience, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He then said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” The hands remained in the air. “Well,” he added, “What if I do this?” He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe. He picked it up, crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still a few hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value. It was still worth $20. Many times, in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong! We are special – let us never forget it! This is the lesson of today’s Gospel, which tells us how Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times.
Introduction: Today’s Gospel narrative shows us the rehabilitation of Peter, who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas, repented, and then received Primacy in the Church from Jesus. The Gospel also shows us God in search of man, even when man tries to evade Him. This theme prompted Francis Thompson to write his famous mystic poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit transformed Peter, whom Jesus had appointed head of his Church, from a man fearful of powerful men into a brave witness to the Resurrection. Today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 30) reminds us that it is God Who rescues us from our troubles and that it is because of Him that, for us as well as for our Risen Lord, “at nightfall weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.” The second reading, taken from Revelation (the Apocalypse), presents John’s vision of the Risen Lord as the glorified “Lamb of God” enthroned in heaven. Using rich imagery, John explains that Jesus has done something unprecedented and has given us more than we deserve. Hence, the angels sing praises around God’s throne. The book of Revelation is an expression of Christian hope in the Risen Lord. The Gospel tells the post-Resurrection story of our merciful Savior who goes in search of His band of disappointed and dejected disciples. John presents this as the third of Jesus’ post-Resurrection apparitions. The incident proves that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances were not mere hallucinations. In the first part of today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to His disciples and gives them a symbol of their mission in a miraculous catch of fish followed by a grilled fish breakfast prepared by Jesus. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon. Three times, Jesus asks Simon Peter, “Do you love Me?” and Peter responds that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus. The two metaphors used in the story, namely fishing and shepherding, are duties of the Church referring to her missionary work. Peter, as a forgiven sinner, is chosen as a leader in a community of brothers and sisters for the quality of his love. As his primary mission, he is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that his fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.
First reading (Acts 5:27-32, 40-41), explained: To teach the gentile converts their new church’s history, the Acts of the Apostles explains the origin of Christianity from Judaism, and how the earliest believers got separated from the Jews. This first reading describes how the post -Pentecost Apostles reacted when the Jewish leaders tried to stop them from preaching about Jesus. The Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin and ordered to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. This was the second time they had been arrested by the Sanhedrin — the Jewish Supreme Court. When the High Priest demanded that Peter and his companions listen to him and obey his orders, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” Then they testified to God’s raising of Jesus as Savior “to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.” Although they were flogged and given strict order not to repeat the “crime,” the Apostles went away “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name.”
Second reading (Rv 5:11-14), explained: By presenting God’s final triumph in Jesus using signs and symbols, the Book of Revelation bolstered the faith of persecuted early Christians. This passage selected as the second reading describes a scene in the court of heaven, where angels and patriarchs, and indeed all of creation, salute Jesus the Lamb. This is John’s description of the vision given him of the praise offered to the risen Jesus by all those in Heaven, on earth, under the earth and in the sea. In Heaven, angels and other spiritual beings sing praises around God’s throne. In God’s hand is a sealed scroll. A voice asks, “Who is worthy to receive the scroll and open its seals?” Then the risen Jesus is pictured as a slain Lamb who stands before the throne of God in Heaven. Those in Heaven praise him by saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” Like the suffering, innocent lamb of Isaiah, Jesus is vindicated by God. This passage gave the early Christians the message that the only lord worthy of worship is the risen “Lord Jesus Christ” (and not the Roman emperor). Jesus’ once-and-for-all-sacrifice as the ultimate Passover Lamb has made it possible for every forgiven sinner and faithful believer to pass from death to life. At every Eucharistic celebration, the worthy and victorious Lamb of God is invoked three times as the gathered assembly admits its need for forgiveness: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. . . grant us peace.”
Gospel exegesis: The risen Jesus in Galilee: The primary purposes in recounting this appearance of the Risen Christ to his Apostles were to rehabilitate Peter who had denied Jesus three times, but then had repented, and to stress the actual conferring of Primacy in the Church on Peter. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the women saying, “Go tell my brethren that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.” It seems that the risen Christ had a specific purpose in seeing His apostles in Galilee. It was there that He had begun his own mission and recruited His Apostles. It was His purpose to confer the Apostolic mission on Peter and the apostles in Galilee. We realize that the risen Jesus was the One who planned and directed the missionary activities of the early Church. We can be certain that the Risen Lord Himself leads and directs his Church today, through the encouragement, guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit, as He did for the Apostles and has done for their successors, down through the ages in their missionary endeavors. [Scholars disagree on whether the author responsible for the first twenty chapters of John also wrote Chapter 21. The fourth Gospel may have originally ended with chapter 20. If so, Chapter 21 was added later to clear up some ambiguities about the roles that Peter and John were to exercise in their first-century Christian communities.]
Back to the sea for fishing: Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel shows Peter returning to his old way of life, trying, perhaps, to forget the disastrous events of the crucifixion of his master. Six other apostles join him: Thomas the doubter, the two hotheaded sons of Zebedee, the faithful and loyal Nathaniel, and two others who are not named. Although John mentions that “it was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead” (v. 14), this is actually the fourth appearance. The first was to Mary of Magdala (20:11-17). The second was to the disciples without Thomas (20:19-23). The third was to Thomas and the disciples (20:26-29). This post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus reminds us of an earlier incident in his ministry, namely the call of Peter and the other disciples after their night of fishing in the Sea of Galilee. (Fishermen often worked at night in order to be able to sell the freshest possible fish at the market in the morning). In both instances, Jesus asks the disciples to cast their nets into the sea a second time. In both cases they catch a large number of fish, and in both incidents Jesus invites Peter to follow him. “The Fathers and Doctors of the Church have often dwelt on the mystical meaning of this episode: the boat is the Church, whose unity is symbolized by the net which is not torn; the sea is the world, Peter in the boat stands for supreme authority of the Church, and the number of fish signifies the number of the elect (The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries).
Eucharistic meal with the Risen Lord: The return of the apostles to their old occupation sets up the next stage of their conversion. Eventually, they come to understand that the stranger on the shore directing them to a tremendous catch of fish actually is “the Lord.” They recognize him while they are doing what they have always done. Immediately afterwards, the disciples eat a meal with Jesus. Though later followers of Jesus narrowed the Eucharist into a formal ritual in which everyone shares a small piece of consecrated Bread and a sip of consecrated Wine, his first disciples celebrated his resurrected presence with a complete meal. Jesus authenticated their work by adding to the meal some of the fish they had caught. It was at this point that they realized that their “Lord” was among them, imparting to them the experience of his glorified presence. In John’s Gospel, Jesus opens his ministry with a miracle of abundance at Cana (2:1-11), and closes his ministry with another miracle of abundance on the Sea of Tiberius (21:4-6). “Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish” (21: 13). This wording has Eucharistic overtones, but there is no mention of the blessing or breaking of bread, both of which are part of the usual Eucharistic formula. This is also reminiscent of the earlier feeding of the five thousand on the shores of this same sea (6:1-15). Jesus is sensitive both to people’s physical and to their spiritual needs. Since then, the Church has followed Jesus’ example by feeding, clothing, housing, and educating people. Our concern for people’s physical needs not only relieves human suffering, but also constitutes a powerful spiritual witness.
The triple confession and commissioning of Peter: One of the features of the stories about the appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection is that they nearly always end up with Jesus commissioning someone. Jesus appears for a purpose. The presence of Jesus is strongly linked with the sense of calling. Peter denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’ arrest (18:17, 25, 27), and repented; now, Jesus is offering him three chances to redeem himself. Jesus first dealt with Peter’s sin and then commissioned him to work on His behalf. Jesus asks twice if Peter loves him with the deeper, stronger, and more sacrificial kind of agape love and not mere phileo love involving brotherly love or friendship. In any event, “the one thing about which Jesus questioned Peter prior to commissioning him to tend the flock, was love. This is the basic qualification for Christian service. Other qualities may be desirable, but love is completely indispensable (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).” (Paul Avent, Study John’s Gospel, Volume II). By this triple confession, Peter is restored to the leadership position from which he had fallen by his triple denial. Furthermore, it is proclaimed that Peter is indeed a pastor, who is to show his love for Christ in feeding Christ’s sheep, a recycling of denial into affirmation. Peter’s rehabilitation is a celebration of Divine Grace. As the shepherd appointed by the True Shepherd, to do as He did, to care for the sheep, Peter also symbolizes leadership. “Feed My lambs,” will continue to be the agenda of the post-Resurrection Church until the risen Lord appears in glory.
Peter’s martyrdom foretold: Finally, Jesus says that Peter will glorify God by his death just as Jesus has glorified God by his (v. 19; see also 7:39; 12:16; 13:31-32; 14:13; 17:1-5). “Stretch out your hands” sounds like crucifixion, and by the time of the writing of this Gospel Peter had been martyred, probably by crucifixion in Rome. Legend has it that he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to emulate his Lord, although evidence for this legend is weak.
Apostles’ experience and our experience: Just as Peter recognizes the risen Lord and leaps into the waters, so Christians profess their Faith in the risen Jesus and are baptized in water and the Spirit. Just as the first disciples share a meal with the risen Jesus, so we now regularly share the Eucharist with Him. And just as the risen Jesus commissions Peter to undertake a pastoral mission on his behalf, so the natural consequence of Baptism and the Eucharist for us is to share ourselves and our Faith with others.
Life messages:1) We need to open our eyes, ears and hearts wide to see, hear and experience the Risen Lord coming to our life in various forms, circumstances and events.
A) The Risen Lord gives us success and achievements: We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the risen Jesus behind our unexpected victories, great achievements, job promotions, miraculous healings and success in relationships. Let us not foolishly attribute a success in our career only to hard work; our good health only to daily exercise coupled with moderation in food and drink; and our sound financial position only to frugal spending habit and good management of money. Let us remember the Divine warnings, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5); and “If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless” (Ps.127: 1).
B) The Risen Lord is present in our pain and suffering: Acts 9:1-13 tells us how the Risen Lord transformed the life of Saul by pushing him down onto the Damascus road and making him temporarily blind. The same Jesus often visits us in the form of accidents, illnesses, the loss of dear ones, pain and suffering, and problems in relationships. When Cardinal Bernadine was hospitalized for the surgical removal of his gall bladder and one of his kidneys to arrest the growth of pancreatic cancer, he said: “Cancer augmented my Faith in the presence of the Risen Jesus as actively involved in my life. I could experience Him in the hospital room more than any time in my busy pastoral life” Bishop Desmond Tutu who was losing the battle against prostate cancer, spoke of how the disease had given him new ears and new eyes to see things and hear things he had so taken for granted – the love of one’s spouse, the Beethoven symphony, the dew on the rose, the laughter on the face of a grandchild.
C) The Risen Lord is visiting us in our friends and well-wishers: He is present in those who visit us and encourage us in our sad and desperate moments. The Risen Lord visits us in the form of unexpected help from the least expected persons in our dire needs. He is right there in our parties and celebrations and occasions of rejoicing.
D) The Risen Lord is present in our Christian worship. He is present on our altars during the Holy Mass to share his life with us; he is present in the words of Holy Scripture; he is there in the Sacraments and he is there where two or three are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20).
2) We need to work with the Risen Lord and plan all our activities with his blessing, after consulting him in prayer and receiving his instruction. Let us pray that we may be a Church that continues in that Gospel lifestyle of fishing for people, of tending the sheep and feeding them with the word of life.
3) Let us compensate for our moments of weakness by genuine acts of love, compassion and service. Peter was called upon to prove his love: “If you love me, feed my sheep.” The same Risen Lord reminds us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). What do our present actions and activities say about our love for Christ? The Risen Jesus accepts our apology, dismisses the charges against us, exonerates us of guilt, and forgives all our weaknesses. He continues to challenge us to demonstrate our love for him by faithfully, freely, feeding his sheep entrusted to our care.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
Feeding lambs of the Secret Service: The pastor grabbed the young man by the hand as he came out of the Church after the Easter Sunday Mass, and pulled him aside. “Young man,” he said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” The young man replied, “I’m already in the army of the Lord, Father.” The pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except as a Christmas Poinsettia and an Easter Lily?” He whispered back, “It’s because I’m in the Secret Service of Jesus.”
“Feed my lambs,” in the attorney’s office: A priest settled into a chair in a lawyer’s office. “Is it true,” said the priest, “that your firm does not charge the members of the clergy?” “I am afraid you are misinformed,” stated the lawyer. “People in your profession can look forward to a reward in the next world, but we lawyers have to take ours in this one.”
Websites of the week
- Ways of Reading the Bible (Fr. Felix Just, S.J): http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Reading-Bible.htm
- Methods of Praying with the Scriptures (Fr. Felix Just, S.J): http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Prayer-Methods.htm
Bible Study, Catholic Style: http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/bible_study_catholic_style/
Lectio Divina a) Ignatian style: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-what-how-why-of-prayer/praying-with-scripture b) Carmelite style:
Text week on John 21. 1-19: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn21.htm
19- Additional anecdotes:
1) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk that illustrates this truth. It is a single block of marble almost 100 feet high. It is in the shape of the Washington Monument and weighs 330 tons. Originally, it was erected as a monument to the Pharaoh around the year 1850 B.C., and it watched over two thousand years of the history of Egypt’s Empire. It stood there when Abraham heard his call, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority to Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, one of the largest empires in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on top of it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, crucified upside down, as Christ predicted in today’s Gospel passage, and where hundreds of other Christians were martyred through centuries of persecution. Then the barbarians sacked Rome, and the obelisk fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when Christian Europe flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V erected the obelisk in the center of the square. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt and Rome and the barbarian hordes. Now it stands as a symbol of the universal Kingdom that has outlasted them all and that will continue to outlast those of the future, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, embodied in his Church. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ was crucified – the throne from which Jesus continues to reign, and will continue to reign, until he comes again and his Vicar hauls the bulging net to the shores of eternity. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
2) “We’re Texans, and we’re going to have a barbecue.” An old Reader’s Digest story tells about a family who moved to Seattle from Texas. The whole family was missing Texas, especially when Christmas was just around the corner and the whole place was covered in snow. We like snow on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve, just as long as it’s all gone by the time we get on the road to go to visit our families, right? Well anyway, this woman said when she went to pick up her first-grade son from school, his teacher told her about a conversation she overheard as the kids were talking about Christmas break. One boy said, “We’re Catholics, and we are going to Christmas Mass.” Another little boy said, “We’re Jewish, and we’re going to have a Hanukkah celebration.” Her little boy chimed in and said, “We’re Texans, and we’re going to have a barbecue.” (Reader’s Digest, Dec. 1999, p. 141.). Today’s Gospel describes a charcoal fire of forgiveness the Risen Lord prepared for Peter who denied him thrice and repented, and the delicious breakfast of fish grilled on that fire that He prepared for all of them. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
3) A school of herring that sank a 63-foot boat: The Associated Press carried a good fish story from Oslo, Norway some time back that turns out to be true. The story was about a school of herring that sank a 63-foot boat. The herring were caught in the fishermen’s net and refused to give up without a fight. When the crew tried to haul in the net, the entire school of herring swam for the bottom. This actually capsized the ship. The skipper of the ship was quoted as saying, “I have been fishing since I was 14 and I have never seen anything like it.” Crew members tried to cut loose the net but were forced to abandon the capsized ship, which sank in 10 minutes. No one was hurt and the six fishermen were rescued by another trawler. It was not clear whether the fish escaped the net or not. (http://www.motherflash.com/sermons/sermonsc8/epiphany3.html). Today’s Gospel describes how the risen Jesus ordered a miraculous catch of fish for his Apostles, headed by Peter. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
4) The Pope as Chauffeur: After getting the former athlete Pope John Paul’s luggage loaded into the limo, the driver notices the Pope still standing on the curb. “Excuse me, Your Holiness,” says the driver,” Would you please take your seat so we can leave?” “Well, to tell you the truth,” says the Pope, “they never let me drive at the Vatican when I was a cardinal, and now that I’m Pope, I’d really like to drive today.” Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph. “Please slow down, Your Holiness!” pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. “Oh, dear God, I’m gonna lose my license — and my job!” moans the driver. The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio. “I need to talk to the Chief,” he says to the dispatcher. The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he’s stopped a limo going a hundred and five. “So bust him,” says the Chief. “I don’t think we want to do that, he’s really big,” said the cop. The Chief exclaimed, “All the more reason!” “No, I mean really important,” said the cop with a bit of persistence. The Chief then asked, “Who ya got there, the Mayor?” Cop: “Bigger.” Chief: “The Governor?” Cop: “Bigger.” Chief: “The President?” Cop: “Bigger.” “Well,” said the Chief, “Who is it?” Cop: “I think it’s God!” The Chief is stumped, ” You been drinking, John?” Cop: “No, Sir.” Chief: “Then what makes you think it’s God?” Cop: “He’s got the Pope as a chauffeur.” Imagine the surprise to Peter and the other disciples in today’s Gospel episode when they finally realized it was the really Big One–the Risen Lord Jesus himself who had come to see them. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
5) “Rest in peace.”‘ Two children, a four-year-old and a six-year-old, gave their mother a houseplant for Mother’s Day. They had used their own money, and she was thrilled. The older child said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you, but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said, ‘Rest in peace.”‘ A parent, particularly a mother, gets little chance to rest in peace this side of Heaven. Parenting is intensive leadership, 24 hours per day. The Bible describes parental leadership as follows: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Our Scripture for today is about leadership. In John’s Gospel, chapter 21, the risen Christ meets the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He cooks breakfast for them. Afterward, he turns to Simon Peter and asks him the same question three times: “Simon, Son of John, do you love me…?” Each time, Simon Peter answers yes. Then three times Jesus commands him to shepherd the sheep of his flock; that is, the people of the infant Church. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
6)How to Live to Be 100… or More. One of the most beloved entertainers of all time was the comedian George Burns. He died in Beverly Hills on March 9, 1996. He was 100 years old. When he was in his nineties he wrote a book entitled How to Live to Be 100… or More. In the book he has a chapter with the heading, “Stay Away from Funerals, Especially Yours.” George Burns said, “If you look in the obituary column in the morning, and your name isn’t there, go ahead and have breakfast.” He said that if he ever looked in the obituary column and found his name was there, he would go ahead and have breakfast anyway because he said, “I’m not leaving on an empty stomach.” Now, that kind of sense of humor kept George Burns young at heart for all of his 100 years. But the fact is that we are all going to die… and even more painful is the fact that people we love are going to die… and that can fill us with despair. Today’s Gospel describes how the Risen Lord transforms the despair of his apostles into hopes and dreams. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ) .
7) “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” There’s a beautiful story (likely an urban legend), that speaks to this. According to the legend, Ignace Paderewski who rose to prominence as Poland’s most famous pianist and Prime Minister, once scheduled a concert in a small out-of-the-way village in hopes of cultivating the arts in rural Poland. A young mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for the Paderewski performance. When the night arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on stage. Without thinking, the mother found a friend and began visiting, and in the excitement of the evening the little boy slipped out of sight! When eight o’clock arrived, the house lights came down, the spotlights came up, the audience quieted… and only then did anyone notice the little ten-year-old boy seated at the concert piano, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” His mother gasped, the stagehands started out to grab the boy, but suddenly Paderewski appeared on stage and waved them away. Paderewski quickly moved to the piano… and standing behind the little boy, whispered into his ear: “Don’t quit. Keep playing! Don’t stop!” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side of the boy, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with great music in a magic moment. Nothing transforms life more than having the strong voice of the Master, who forever… surrounds us with His love, whisper in our ear time and again, “Don’t quit! Don’t stop! Keep on playing!” That is what Peter and his friends experienced on the shore of Tiberius as described in today’s Gospel. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
8) The love confessed, and the love expressed: Three little boys were debating whose mom was the most loving. The first little boy said: “My mommy loves me because I gave her a quarter, but she gave it back, saying ‘Go and buy a piece of candy.'” The second little boy argued that his mother loved him more because “If I give her a quarter, she gives me back two quarters for two pieces of candy.” The third little boy, seeing the direction of the debate, scratched his head and said, “Well, my mom loves me more because she would keep the quarter and then tell me how much that quarter will help her pay the bills.” The love confessed and the love expressed can take many different forms and not all of them are pleasant. Today’s Gospel passage describes a triple confession of love by Peter rewarded by the Risen Lord. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
9) What fish? A young man in Tennessee was fishing on one of the TVA lakes. He was stopped by a game warden as he was leaving the lake with two large buckets of fish. The game warden asked, “Do you have a license to catch those fish?” “Nope,” the young man replied. “These are my pet fish.” “Pet fish?” the warden asked. “What do you mean, pet fish?” “Well,” said the young man, “Every night, I take these fish down to the lake and let ’em swim around for awhile. Then, I whistle, and they jump right back into my ice chests and I take ’em home.” “That’s a bunch of hooey!” said the warden. “Fish can’t do that.” The young man looked at the game warden for a moment, and then said, “Here, I’ll show you. It really works.” “I’ve got to see this!” said the warden. The young man poured the fish into the lake and stood and waited. After several minutes, the warden says, “Well?” “Well, what?” says the young man. The warden says, “When are you going to whistle and call ’em back?” “Call who back?” asked the young man with a grin on his face. “The FISH,” replied the warden! “What fish?” asked the young man. Fishermen are famous for their creativity. Someone has said the only question about the veracity of Jesus’ disciples is that at least four of them were fishermen. Our lesson for the day takes place after the Resurrection. It is another example of how the disciples struggled with the news that Christ had risen from the dead. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
10) A teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket: During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director, “How do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized?” “Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.” “Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.” “No,” said the Director. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?” The Apostle Peter was not a normal person. He hadn’t been normal from the day Jesus entered his life. That didn’t mean he was going to get a bed by the window in a mental institution. No, what it meant for Peter is that God had big plans for him. But in order to fulfill those plans, Peter had to let go of some things, one of which was the heart-rending heavy burden of his denial of Christ. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
11) “I want the band to play ‘Dixie’” : Those who visit Washington, DC make a tour of all the traditional sites like the White House, the Smithsonian, the halls of Congress and the Lincoln Memorial. There is something about standing in the Lincoln Memorial and reading the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address which gives you goosebumps. One line in the Second Inaugural reminds you what a caring and compassionate man Lincoln was. He was speaking about the coming end of the War and he said: “With malice toward none; With charity for all.” Lincoln put this idea into practice on the day that news arrived in Washington that the war was over. A crowd gathered at the White House and a military band was playing some festive music. Lincoln stood on the balcony of the White House and spoke. Instead of lashing out against the South, he spoke of the horrors of war being over. He spoke of families getting back together. He spoke of a time of peace. Then he said, “In a few moments I want the band to play and I’m going to tell them what I want them to play.” Of course, the band started getting the “Battle Hymn of The Republic” ready to play. This had been the theme song of the North throughout the Civil War. But Lincoln crossed them up. He stood there and said: “The band will now play the theme song of the people we have called our enemy. They are not our enemies anymore! We are one people again. I want the band to play ‘Dixie.'” Historians say there was a long, awkward pause. The band didn’t have the music for “Dixie,” but they finally got together and played “Dixie.” Lincoln knew that the South was not only hurting because of the horrors of the war, but also because of the shame which accompanies defeat. Lincoln was sending a clear signal to the South. Lincoln was telling everyone that there would be no punishment upon the South. Lincoln was saying that the South would be treated with love and compassion. When you love after the patterns of Jesus, caring and compassion become the cornerstone of your love. Love is not vicious or hostile. Love does not try to compound the guilt. Love doesn’t try to rub salt in the wounds of shame. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
12) “Sometimes I can even sense him sitting there beside me.” An old man became gravely ill, and when the pastor came to visit, the pastor noticed a chair beside the man’s bed. “Oh, goodness,” the pastor said, “you’ve already had a visitor today.” “Oh, no,” the man replied, “let me tell you about that chair. Years ago, I told a friend that when I prayed at night, I frequently fell asleep right in the middle of my prayers. And my friend suggested that I put a chair beside my bed and imagine that Jesus is sitting there with me, because after all, he really is. So I started doing that, and you know what? It really helped. Sometimes I can even sense him sitting there beside me.” After talking with the man a while longer, the pastor went home, and later that night he got a call from the man’s daughter. She said, “Pastor, my dad just died. Can you come over?” So the pastor went to see her. The daughter said, “You know I was in the room and everything was fine. He wasn’t struggling or anything. He was just lying there peacefully. So I left the room for a moment. When I came back, he had passed away. But what’s strange is that when I came back in the room, I noticed that the chair was pulled back up beside his bed. Somehow he had managed to roll over on his side and stretch out his arm to the chair beside him.” Real solutions to real problems — that’s what the Resurrection of Jesus can mean to us: God’s power and love flowing into our lives; the forgiveness and newness that can be ours in Jesus; the assurance of his presence with us always. Jesus calls to us today to drop down our nets. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
13) “I’ve never seen a newborn baby,” he said, “that weighed fifty pounds!” Fishermen have such a reputation for, exaggeration. Someone said that the difference between a hunter and a fisherman is that the hunter lies and waits and the fisherman waits and lies. One fisherman I heard about got tired of people doubting his veracity. He bought a scale and took it with him to his favorite hole. He insisted on weighing every fish he caught, just to prove that he didn’t exaggerate. Months later his wife had a baby. The doctor borrowed the man’s fishing scale to weigh the baby. The doctor gasped, “I’ve never seen a newborn baby,” he said, “that weighed fifty pounds!” Today’s Gospel describes a true fish story about a miraculous catch of fish. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
14) “Say father, say, if yet my task is done” : In 1748 during the battle of Nile aboard the French Ship Orient, there took place a great and heroic event of trust. Commander Louis de Casabianca asked his young son Giocante to wait for his order to leave the deck. The boy stood on the deck waiting for his father’s orders. The ship caught fire. Flames rose to the sky. He was surrounded by flames. Finally he called out, “Say father, say, if yet my task is done” But the poor little boy did not know that his father was lying dead and cold in the bottom of the ship. He stood on the burning deck with absolute trust in his father. “Speak, father! Once again he cried. “If I may yet be gone!” While over him fast, through sail and shroud The wreathing fires made way. English poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans immortalized the trust of Giocante in the poem Casabianca. As Giocante showed unwavering trust in his father we see Peter expressing his unchallengeable trust in Jesus. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
15) The Sun has risen: The editor of one of the leading religious newspapers was walking along some cliffs near Eastbourne, England, one Easter morning. In his walk he met an old fisherman, and during their conversation together, the editor was struck by the simple Faith of the old fisherman in his risen Savior. “How do you know that Jesus has risen?” he asked. “Sir,” came the reply, “do you see those cottages near the cliffs? Well, sir, sometimes when I am far out at sea, I know that the sun has risen by the light that reflected by yon cottage windows. How do I know that Christ has risen? Why, sir, do I not see his light reflected from the faces of some of my fellows every day, and do I not feel the light of his glory in my own life? As soon tell me that the sun has not risen when I see his reflected glory, as tell me that my Lord is not risen.” – (Anthony Castle, More Quotes and Anecdote; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
16) Love Breakthrough: There is a marvelous New Yorker cartoon which depicts a moment of challenge in the life of one man. He is well on in his middle years, his hair is in retreat, and thick round spectacles sit on his nose. Dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown he stands inside his door staring at something on the floor. The door is heavily reinforced with steel brackets and a variety of bolts and locks and chains. It is a picture of security gone mad. There is no letter box to receive mail, but there is a peeping hole to see out. Clearly no one could penetrate this place without approval. But something has got through this array of defenses. A white envelope with a large red heart impressed on the back is lying on the floor. A valentine card has been slipped under the door. Our middle-aged hero stares in wonder. Is this a joke? Is it a flat letter bomb? Should he claim it or push it back across the threshold? We’ll never know! –It is particularly difficult for people who live in fear to show their love. After the Resurrection the apostles still lived in fear so Jesus asks Peter the question: “Do you love me?” Insisting on love is something of a mark of Jesus. Loving the Lord is always a charge to care for others. The question of Jesus stays with us hoping for an answer. This Jesus is worth letting through our defenses and locked doors. He’s not a security risk. After all, his Valentine has already been slipped under the door. (Dennis McBride, Seasons of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ).
17) Back from the brink with Mother Teresa: Brother Andrew from the Missionary Brothers of Charity tells the following story. One day Mother Teresa received a letter written by a man on the day of his intended suicide. He wrote that, on the preceding afternoon, he had worked out all the details for what seemed to him a perfectly “rational” suicide. And then, quite by accident, he came across Malcolm Muggeridge’s biography of Mother Teresa. Bored and with nothing else to do, he started to read it. As he read, he found that book, or rather that life, giving him a new interest in life, and, as he finished it, he moved back from the brink of suicide to begin life anew. The example of Mother Teresa, until then unknown to him, had given him hope. This man had discovered that his boat was empty. But by the example of a living saint, he realized that it could be full. Today’s Gospel episode describes how a full boat of fish opened the eyes of the apostles to the Risen Lord. (E- Priest) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
18) “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” All the saints exemplify this truth. None of them achieved their holiness and happiness without suffering, because only through suffering for and with Christ could their love for Christ mature. The supposed last words of St Thomas More sum up the lesson beautifully. St Thomas More was the Chancellor of England in the early 1500s, a layman, and a close friend and faithful servant of King Henry VIII. Unfortunately, the King was less faithful. When his first wife didn’t give him a son, and he found pleasure in one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, King Henry requested an annulment from the Pope. But there were no grounds for an annulment. So King Henry, instead of humbly accepting the Church’s decision and trusting in God, took things into his own hands. He declared himself the supreme head of the Church in England, denouncing the Pope’s rightful supremacy. Then with his newfound religious authority, he granted himself the annulment, so he could marry his mistress. Almostall of England’s bishops and noblemen took the king’s side in this affair, and the Anglican Church was born. St. Thomas More, the King’s highest-ranking adviser, refused to sign the Act of Supremacy and go along with the King. He and his family were threatened, cajoled, and tortured, but he would not betray Christ’s Church. Finally, he was convicted of treason and executed. There are various accounts of his last words. The 1966 Academy Award winning movie, A Man for All Seasons (based on the play of the same name by Robert Bolt), told Thomas More’s life story, in which Thomas’ his last words are recorded as: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” In this fallen world, to love Christ with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, will get us into trouble, sooner or later. But that kind of trouble is good for our souls, which is why God allows it. Suffering for Christ matures our love, and only mature love gives lasting meaning to our lives. That is why in today’s Gospel Jesus informs Peter that he will glorify God by his martyrdom. (E- Priest) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )..
19) Would-Be Church Destroyers: Our culture is so focused on current events and headlines, that we can easily lose sight of this perspective. But a brief glance at history can remedy that. The mere fact of the Church’s endurance through twenty centuries, maintaining the same doctrine, the same forms of worship (the Mass, seven sacraments), and the same structure (bishops united under the pope’s leadership to serve believers) is, without a doubt, miraculous. It only becomes more amazing when we take a look at the actual obstacles and enemies it had to overcome. The Roman Empire tried to stamp out Christianity for 300 years. That Empire is gone; the Church remains. In the Middle Ages, the Islamic Empire extended over even more territory than Rome had, and conquered many Christian lands. It invaded Europe and tried to do away with the Church. That Empire fell, but the Church remains. In the sixteenth century, most of northern Europe rebelled against the Catholic Church in what was called the Protestant Reformation. In some countries, being Catholic became a crime earning capital punishment. Yet today, the Catholic Church remains the largest Christian community, and in those countries, the Church remains alive. In the seventeenth century a new Islamic Empire, that of the Turks, tried again to overrun Christian civilization. That Empire is gone; the Church remains. In the eighteenth century, the French Revolution tried to eradicate the Church in France, martyring hundreds, if not thousands. The Revolution passed; the Church endured. In the nineteenth century, Napoleon conquered all of continental Europe, usurped the Church hierarchy, and imprisoned two popes in efforts to take over the Catholic Church. His Empire passed away; the Church remains. In the twentieth century, Soviet Communism tried to wipe out the Catholic Church in all of its territories, as did the German Nazis. Those regimes are gone; the Church remains. Today the saga continues, in Africa, the Middle East, China, and Vietnam. The Church has endured, and it will continue to endure, just as Christ promised. Peter will bring the net to shore, overstuffed with large fishes, and the net will not be torn. (E- Priest) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ) L/19
20)The value of a $20 bill: A well-known speaker began a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. He asked the audience, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He then said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” The hands remained in the air. “Well,” he added, “What if I do this?” He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe. He picked it up, crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still a few hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value. It was still worth $20. Many times, in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong! We are special – let us never forget it! This is the lesson of today’s Gospel, which tells us how Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times. (frtonyshomilies.com)
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 26) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI. Or https://www.cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?type=text
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.