“..we gave you formal warning not to preach in his name & what have you done?” ..”what have you done???” ..in football terms it feels like a straight red card ..in Church speak excommunication.. ..imagine if our telling of our faith stories disturbed the authorities, be they secular or religious authorities, so deeply & threateningly they gave our little faith community in Our Lady & St Benedict’s a formal warning to keep quiet.. ..imagine..it couldn’t happen could it?..could it?..& if not why not? our Easter faith should be life changing, controversial & life threatening..
“..we are witnesses to all this..” ; Lord have mercy “..we & the Holy Spirit given to those who obey him..” ; Christ have mercy “..glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..when my elderly Mum used to now & again get upset with life, cross hobbled, ready to argue with her shadow, bless her, she would do what she was best at ; she would roll up her sleeves, get stuck into her washing & get a washing line of clothes out blowing in the wind..”I’m going fishing” Peter at low ebb having lost Jesus went back to what he knew best..his crew went with him & they caught nothing..a low tide moment in every sense until stranger came, cheekily called them “friends” & told them to try again..imagine our reaction if stranger tried teach you to suck eggs in your faith journey..rather like our beloved disciples in Brownedge where, if they’d a parish mission statement it could have been flown from steeple of their Church & it would have read “we’ve always done it this way” we’ve always kicked same can down same road & we’re not for changing now..”& against his better judgement, they dropped the net & there were so many fish that they could not haul it in”..& for the youngest disciple, Jesus’ favourite, the penny dropped “it is the Lord” a doubting Thomas moment” my Lord & my God” remember?..& suddenly it’s our faith story is it not? up to our necks in sea water & fresh fish all because we noticed listened to & reacted to advice of a stranger..like my Mum & Peter, in my low moments, I look forward to my fishing trips each Sat morning when I meet with crew of 11young disciples, favourites of Jesus & a catechist, & we have an hour to die for..full line of washing, a full boat of fish, a full hour with our catch of a lifetime..a wonderful poster in Christian bookshop shows young boy sitting on end of a jetty, back to camera fishing ; panorama of a lake surrounded by trees & caption says “give me a fish & I eat for a day; teach me to fish & I eat for a lifetime” 11 young fisherfolk teaching me..last Sat as usual we finished session with 5mins in Church at the Lady Statue where we light candle for people in need..last Sat we paused at Easter candle where I explained how it was lit for first time from bonfire at our Vigil as Light of Christ came into Church new light new life..how yawns changed into smiles of energy & excitement at who they had seen..Theo asked what two signs above beneath cross on candle meant..& Lexi explained they were two Greek letters alpha & omego meaning first & last; Jesus with us for all time..& how did she know that I asked?.. “Mr Jacob’s had explained it to us just before Holy Week”..a net full of finest fresh fish..& linking to Lexi’s greek is second half of our gospel & Jesus’ extraordinary dialogue with Peter..”Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?” a human Jesus in a low moment seeking affirmation..a needy Jesus in need of a needy Simon..a scratchy dialogue in which English translation sounds mind centred & tetchy..in 2008 Pope Benedict crafted a beautiful meditation on this very passage which he based like Lexi on the original greek..I’d like to share it with you now, as one of most profound texts you/me will ever hear..”in gk word “fileo” means the love of friendship, tender but not all-encompassing; instead word “agapao” means love without reserve, total & unconditional. Jesus asks Simon first time “Simon do you love me?”[agapas-me] with this total & unconditional love? Prior to his own sins of betrayal , Simon certainly would have said “I love you [agapo-se] unconditionally.” Now that he has known the bitter sadness of his own infidelity, the drama of his own weakness, he says with humility “yes Lord, you know I love you”[ filo-se] that is “I love you with my poor human love.” Christ insists“Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?” ..& Simon repeats the response of his humble human love “Kyrie, filo-se” “Lord, I love you as I am able to love you” the third time Jesus only says to Simon “fileis-me” “do you love me?” Simon understands that his poor love is enough for Jesus; it is the only one of which he is capable, nonetheless he is grieved that Jesus spoke to him in this way. So he replies “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you “ this is to say that Jesus has put himself [down] on the level of Simon, rather than expecting Simon to rise to Jesus’ level! It is exactly this divine conformity which gives hope to the disciple [ & thee & me] who experienced the pain of infidelity. From here is born the trust which makes Simon able to follow Christ to the end “this he said to show by what death he was to glorify God. After this he said to him “follow me”. From the naïve enthusiasm of initial acceptance, passing through the sorrowful experience of denial & the weeping of conversion, Simon succeeds in entrusting himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to Simons poor capacity to love.. & in this way he shows us the way, notwithstanding our own weaknesses. We know that Jesus adapts himself to this weakness of ours.” a life changing insight from Pope Benedict..let me finish with context for us.. ..Jesus sets the bar at the level he knows you & I can, with our personal best & his grace, achieve..a full net a full Church “full of big fish 153 of them” ..& pray do you know what the capacity of this Church is ?..150..full of big weak yet willing fish..fully alive, & we eat for a lifetime..a dream or an expectation?..ask Theo or Lexi.. [3rdSun Easter Yr C; Jn 21;1-19]