Challenging Choices: Jump In as a Disciple

Challenging Choices: Jump In as a Disciple

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The readings from this reflection: Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5: 11-14; John 21:1-19

Stop teaching in that NAME!”, says the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. Responding to the challenge, Simon, now known as Peter, said, “We must obey God not you!” The believing apostles and disciples did that very thing and chose to live as Jesus and taught in his name for the rest of their lives.

If we go back to the time of Jesus’ passion and death, we would not have seen a courageous Simon/ Peter, with his triple denial of relationship with Jesus. In the midst of adversity, his choice was distancing himself from the one whom he had earlier acknowledged as “the Christ, Son of the Living God.” Simon/Peter sank so low, that he felt and experienced no self-worth.

On this 3rd Sunday of Easter, we are given a redeeming vision by friend and disciple/evangelist, John. Yes, something has changed from the time of the passion and death of Jesus through the gift of the Resurrection of Jesus.

John, in his gospel, remembers the discouraged Peter deciding to return to his former way of life, “I am going fishing!” John and five others decided to go with him. That night, they caught nothing! Nothing! Nada! Zilch! These “professional fishermen” and “failed disciples of Jesus” must be thinking, “We even fail in what we were good at in supporting our families?” John recalls that Peter went back to his former way of life and nothing came of it.

But then, John remembers dawn came, you know ‘daylight,’ and there is a man on the shoreline cooking something. John remembers that he himself recognized that it was Jesus and said it out loud, “It is the Lord!” Peter got excited and ‘jumped in the lake’…okay, in the Sea of Tiberias.

This jump is a “self-baptism” for Peter … a ‘new found commitment’ to Jesus. As he and eventually the others get to Jesus, they find he has some fish and some bread on his grill. Can you imagine: Jesus has a special recipe? It was a recipe of communion that includes forgiveness and reconciliation—TOTAL forgiveness and TOTAL reconciliation! John remembers Jesus directing them to cast their net to the other side and WOW! …. 153 large fish. Message: When we live by Jesus’ words, our lives become “full to the breaking point”! When we offer forgiveness and reconciliation, the forgiven experience their lives “full to the breaking point.”

John’s redeeming vision tells us that Peter’s earlier words of denial are never to be the final words! The dialogue between Jesus and the words of Peter are for all of us called to be faithful believers. “Do you love me?” … then “Feed my lambs, tend to them, protect them.”

Challenging decisions and choices are a part of life in our world. Do we need to ‘jump in’ and bring others with us to Jesus? Jesus has something (a special recipe) for us to share. He offers communion and says his communion is for you, and it is also for our brothers and sisters: We don’t stop at ourselves! “Do you love me? …Then feed my lambs, tend to them, protect them with the divine loving and caring given to you for them.

Fr. Mark Binder is a retired priest of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.