Third Sunday of Easter
Jn 21:1-19 or 21:1-14
April 24, 2022
We’ve all heard the expression: My whole life flashed in front of my eyes! It’s used when someone has had a close call…or a narrow escape.
Actually, there has been a recent medical report that scans, taken on actively dying patients, register inordinate activity in the areas of the brain where memories are stored moments immediately before and after the heart ceases to beat. This suggests to researchers that there might well be a surge of memories prior to clinical death. Could there be some truth to the old saying? Interesting!
With that thought, let’s take a look at the Gospel…another description of a post-Resurrection encounter with The Risen Christ.
Early in the morning on a spring day, after a disappointing night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee, several of Jesus’s inner circle looked to the shore and saw something remarkable that must have caused a flood of memories. Peter, in particular, was profoundly affected by Who they saw sitting at a campfire…waiting.
The moment he heard the other Apostle say: It is the Lord! Peter must have remembered that day he and his brother and two of their friends left their boats, and nets, and catch, and even their families to follow Jesus to become Fishers of men! Yet, here he was, back doing what he had been doing when he received the call to discipleship.
Was this morning a “close call” for him? Did he “narrowly escape” returning to his old way of life, forgetting…or at least neglecting the responsibility that Jesus had entrusted to him?
Every detail of this encounter with The Risen Christ should have been a trigger, firing off a memory in Peter’s mind. Jumping out of the boat, like he once leaped into a raging sea, he made his way towards The Lord. We can say this much for certain: He was self-conscious. He felt exposed and took steps to “cover himself.”
Maybe this surge of embarrassment was brought on by the memory of how his lack of faith had once caused him to sink. Or possibly he was recalling other moments of doubt, impulsive behavior, silly comments, and even denial that he was known for as he journeyed with Jesus of Nazareth. Who can say?
But Christ did not dwell on the past. Nor did The Easter Jesus accuse Peter of neglecting his duties…regressing from Apostle to fisherman. What The Lord did do is remind Peter of the most important way to express love for Him…love for God. Service!
Lent was a time to draw closer to Jesus through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Then, on Easter morning, we celebrated. Now, as we move through the Easter Season towards Ordinary Time, there will be more and more “close calls” and “narrow escapes.” The opportunities to regress and resume our old ways are always there…luring us…tempting us…tricking and trapping us. Like Peter, we need to be reminded of how best to express our love and commitment to Jesus Christ. Service!
On that day when our heart finally rests, if our entire life does pass before our eyes…there will be countless reasons to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. Most people will suffer memories of times when they lacked faith, or suffered doubts, or acted impulsively, or made silly comments. Some will even remember moments of denial.
But hopefully, the Just Judge will look beyond those reasons to be embarrassed and ask only…HOW WELL DID YOU SERVE?