Did you hear that the police in Paris do not have a clue as to what started the fire at Notre Dame? Not a clue. But, the bell-ringer has a hunch.
1) Our gospel… We heard that, after fishing all night, the apostles caught nothing. Then, wisely, they listened to Jesus, tried a new approach, and they caught an abundance of fish. The lesson? After failure, listen to Jesus.
Maybe we’ve had failures at parenting, failures in relationships, failures in school, failures at work. Maybe we’ve had failures at trying to overcome a personal fault. Maybe the Lord is telling us also to try another approach. Easter is a time for new hope. But now it is Jesus directing our dreams. We need to hush. Listen.
2) Secondly, after the great catch of fish, the apostles came ashore. What was Jesus doing on shore? The gospel says he was cooking them breakfast. Almighty God, cooking breakfast for his friends! If you ever wonder about the value in God’s eyes of your little acts of hospitality, remember this incident.
In fact, I always say that “hospitality” is God’s middle name. In Psalm 23, we read, “He anoints my head with oil.” “He leads me to green pastures.” “He spreads the table before me.” Hospitality…reaching out… showing concern… showing respect…genuine listening…
When we do those things we are proclaiming what our God is like…our God who made breakfast for his friends.
3) Thirdly, Faith. In our gospel story today Peter made the second part of his profession of faith. The first part was in the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 16. There Peter proclaims of Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:18). That was Peter’s accent with his head. Today we see him professing his faith with his heart. “Yes. Lord, I love you.” Three times he says it. Faith involves the head and the heart.
Then Jesus tells Peter to “Feed my sheep.”And Peter does. He goes on to preach the gospel, and eventually dies as a martyr. That’s Peter showing his faith with his will, choosing to serve the Lord. We learn that faith involves the head, the heart, and the will.
At Mass we recite the Creed. That’s the ascent of our head. “I believe in one God…” Then we receive Holy Communion. That’s the ascent of our hearts. “Amen, Lord, I love you. I welcome you into my heart.” Then we are sent out to serve.“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” By choosing to serve, we profess our faith with our wills.
Faith involves the whole person, our head, our heart, and our will. That faith identifies who we are and what we are about.
4) Finally, each year the seniors of St. Lucy’s High School come to our retreat center for their Kairos retreat. On Friday I went to their school to hear the students perform songs from Broadway musicals. At the end of the show, I just said, “Wow!” Such joy and exuberance. Then last night I went to the Ambassador Auditorium to hear the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven ’s 5thSymphony. Again, I said, “Wow!” Such grandeur and majesty.
I think both experiences were a sample of what heaven will be like. In our second reading, St. John describes a Heavenly Liturgy. He heard the voices of many angels proclaiming, “blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” Beautiful music gives glory and praise to God and will be going on for all eternity. And we can start celebrating and singing, “Alleluia” right here, right now on earth.
Because Christ died and rose, we have mercy. There is forgiveness of our sins.
Because Christ died and rose we have hope. There is life after death.
Because Christ died and rose, we have his presence in our lives right now. He promised the apostles, and us, that he would be with us always.
We have much cause for singing and dancing.
I close with these words from a man named Pavel Poloz, who was exiled from Russia in 1987. He said,
“In Russia, Christians are tested by hardship, but in America you are tested by freedom. And testing by freedom is much harder. Nobody pressures you about your religion. So you relax and are not so concentrated on Christ, on His teaching, how He wants you to live."
Let not these words be said about us. Instead, let our words be those of Joshua in the Old Testament. He said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”(Joshua 24: 15).