Third Sunday of Easter
JN 21:1-19
April 10, 2016

When he was very young…first or second grade…my sister indulged my nephew’s great fascination with magic. She permitted him to take lessons from a local magician. So, after a few months as the “magician’s apprentice,” and while our family was out to dinner, Joe stood next to the table in the middle of a fairly crowded restaurant and regaled us with several slight-of-hand tricks. The tricks themselves were amazing, but, to see them so smoothly executed by such a little kid only made the act more fascinating; so much so, that when he sat down, the other diners broke into applause. As we were bringing our meal to a close, the server brought over an enormous ice cream sundae, complete with lit sparklers, and placed it in front of Joe, indicating that the people at the next table had sent it over to him. It is one of those treasured family memories that we tell and retell…without tiring of it. But, even more than the magic show, what stays with me is what happened after we left the restaurant.

I was so impressed with his skill that I asked for an encore. He refused! I persisted. He continued to decline. Finally, with a note of impatience in his voice, he replied: “Listen, Uncle Ran…if you see the trick over and over again…you’ll figure out how I do it…and it won’t be magic anymore.”

This weekend, we hear yet another of the many experiences of the Risen Christ that the Apostles and disciples enjoyed between Easter Morning and Ascension Day. The passage from John’s Gospel is rich in symbolism and invites each of us to spend time reflecting on it in private prayer. Breakfast with Jesus! Can you think of a better way to begin the day?

What is striking to me, however, is that The Risen Lord continued to reveal the mystery of resurrection to His followers…in many different ways and places, each experience carrying with it a special lesson or message…or gift. Each, in its own way, seems to be an effort to reinforce that THIS IS FOR REAL! THIS IS NO TRICK! THERE IS NO ILLUSION…I LIVE!!!

Jesus appeared over and over to His followers so that they would “figure out how He did it.” With each visit, it must have become more and more clear to them that the power of Almighty God rolled back the stone and called back to life what the destructive power of darkness tried to kill. The visits of The Glorified Christ were repeated so that the Apostles and disciples would “figure it out.” But, the Lord, in turn, asked that Peter repeat his declaration of love…to the point that Peter’s final reply was quite likely carried on a note of impatience. OF COURSE I LOVE YOU! YOU KNOW THAT! WHY KEEP ASKING?

The fact is Jesus did keep asking Peter, and continues to ask each of us…DO YOU LOVE ME? We are continually challenged by The Lord…in a variety of places and circumstances…each and every day of our lives…to declare our love. Why? Maybe so that we finally “figure it out”…come to see that we were created in the image and likeness of God…WHO IS LOVE!

It’s no trick. It’s not magic. It’s reality. Love is the power by which the dead rise…and share in the Easter Glory of the Risen Christ.