5 May 20193 Easter

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
3 Easter
Third Sunday of Easter
Cycle C John 21, 1-19

I have been told of a young man who periodically puts a few hundred dollars together. Then he invites some poor youngsters to join him on a day's outing at an amusement park. He puts the kids on the rides until they have had enough. Then he takes them into a fancy restaurant for a sit-down meal. One six year old pulled his face long enough out of his shrimp cocktail to ask his host, "Mister, is your name Jesus?" When the curtain goes up on today's Gospel, the apostles are broke and hungry. Since many of them were fishermen, they did what comes naturally.

Their supper was out there swimming in the Sea of Tiberias just waiting to be caught. But the fish proved to be much smarter than they and went on a holiday. The score was fish 11 and apostles 0. They had spent the whole night on the water and they had caught nothing but a bad cold and a vile temper. As they headed toward land, the more hungry imagined they heard the fish laughing uproariously at them. The sun had just risen gloriously out of the east. However, the men in the boat were not of a mind to enjoy it. Standing on the shore and checking the scene out stood the Teacher. None of them picked Him off. Why not? Perhaps a mist coming off the waters limited their visibility. Or very possibly the resurrected Christ was different in appearance than the one whom they had spent the last three years with. If affirmative, that does raise interesting questions about the appearance of our own risen bodies down the road. Incidentally, I wonder how many times we have seen Jesus without recognizing Him. Remember the neighbor who brought you over a hot supper when you had a death in the family. In any event, the stranger ordered them to drop their nets again. What is remarkable is that they obeyed him. Why remarkable? For openers, professional fishermen are smart enough to never, never throw their nets over the starboard side.

Those were His instructions. And secondly dropping the huge 330 feet nets over the boat was almost a day's work in itself. These men were exhausted. They desperately needed sleep. Once again, Jesus had woven a spell over people. It is the same spell incidentally that brings us to honor and worship Him today. His drawing power is explained in the poet's line: "The image of the Master, one glimpse and we are in love." We all know the rest of the story. Hundreds of surprised and indignant fish were caught in the nets. It was impossible to get the nets back into the boat. After much back-breaking labor, they tied the nets to the large boat as best they could. Courtesy of "the disciple Jesus loved," they knew now who their Benefactor was. When they came ashore, they saw that the Master was preparing their breakfast.

With something approaching incredulity, they watched Him toast bread and roast their freshly caught fish over a simmering charcoal fire. They ought not to have been too surprised. He had told them often enough that you cannot tell people about God when their stomachs are empty. Perhaps you can understand better now why the Church has so many collections for the poor. Just think about it for a moment! We are speaking here of the same Christ who has been saluted in music by people of genius.

This is the very same Jesus about whom literally countless books have been written, world-class pictures drawn, and poems composed. This is the very same Saviour after whom countries and cities have been named. And, wonder of wonders, He consents to be a short-order cook and waiter for people who are hungry. The next time you are asked to do something for somebody and you think it beneath your dignity, do me a favor. Reflect on this Gospel and then go out and do whatever the task is. You will find yourself in very good company. But hurry! Every day TIME magazine estimates 40,000 children - more than one every second - succumb to diseases linked to chronic hunger. Would it not be wonderful if some day a six year old can look at us with large eyes over the shrimp cocktail we have just bought him and inquire, "Hey, is your name Jesus?"

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
3 Easter
Third Sunday of Easter: A Tale of Two Fires

The night was cold. People sat around a fire the way people do when they are trying to warm up. They were real close to each other, jockeying for a place where they could feel the flames. And they were talking, as people usually do when they are so close to each other. They had a lot to talk about. They were in the courtyard of a building where Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee was being held prisoner. "Now that they've got him, they will probably kill him," someone might have said. Those around the fire offered a summary of the night's events, how they found him in the Garden of Olives where one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, brought the Temple soldiers to arrest him. Someone else might have mentioned that Galileans have brought a lot of trouble to the capital in the past; so it is no surprise that the chief priests had enough of them. Then they heard the big man by the fire speak. Someone recognized him.

"You are one of his disciples, aren't you?" "No," Peter responded. "Didn't I see you with him once." "No," he said even firmer. "Certainly, you are one of his disciples, you even have a Galilean accent." With that Peter cursed and said, "I do not know the man." And then Jesus was brought out. The Gospel of Luke simply says that Jesus met Peter's eyes. And Peter wept bitterly. He had denied Jesus three times only a few hours after he had said that he would die for the Lord. There was another fire in the early morning a few weeks later. This fire was on the shore of Lake Galilee. There was a man there, not warming himself, but cooking fish for breakfast. Peter had recognized him earlier when the man told him how to turn an unsuccessful night of fishing into a bonanza. So there they were by the fire, Jesus, Peter and the other disciples. Again, Peter was asked about his relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. "Do you love me?" Simon Peter.

Three times Jesus asked. Three times Peter affirmed his love. Three times Jesus told him, "then feed my sheep." And Peter became more and more determined to live for the Lord and, if this is what it would take, to die for the Lord. And die he would. The first reading presents the first time that Peter was arrested after the Resurrection. Actually, the reading skips over some of the action. After the Sanhedrin told Peter and John to stop preaching about the Lord, they had them flogged. It would not be the last time that Peter would suffer. Tradition holds that Peter journeyed to the center of the world, to Rome, where he was arrested and put to death on the Vatican hill, most likely looking at the huge obelisk Nero had placed in the center of an arena that had been there. That is the same obelisk that is now in St. Peter's Square.

A new Pope looks this obelisk when he is first introduced. It is a tale of two fires, a fire of denial and a fire of affirmation. Which fire are you sitting at? Which fire am I sitting at? Are we sitting at the fire of denial? When someone says that the times have changed and it is OK to have sex, to get drunk, to take drugs, to destroy others, to berate strangers, to hate, are we in agreement? Maybe we don't say the words, but our silence often speaks loudly when we refuse to stand up for our faith, for our morals, for our Lord. Or are you and I sitting at the fire of affirmation, when we declare with our whole heart that we do love the Lord and that we will do anything and everything for him? Sometimes we are sitting at this fire of love on a retreat or a spiritual conference. And we leave with our hearts ablaze for the Lord.

But sitting by the fire is not enough. It is far from enough. Jesus said to Peter and says to us, "If you love me, feed my sheep." We have to care for the Lord's people, for everyone with whom he identifies, for those in Matthew 25 whom He calls the least of his brothers and sisters: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, the stranger. Jesus began his public life declaring: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed and to announce a year of favor from the Lord." He was sent to bring God's mercy to the world, to His people, to His Sheep. We cannot claim to love the Lord and ignore the plight of those around us. Perhaps there is that Teen in school who some have decided is and will remain at the bottom of the social pecking order. Or maybe it's someone at work or in the neighborhood. "We don't like her, him," the in-crowd says, and we are expected to agree.

If we love the Lord, then we can't agree. Instead, we have to befriend the outcast even if this means losing some friends. They aren't good friends anyway. Perhaps we need to consider nasty old Aunt Martha. She's that relative that finds ways to pick fights. The other members of the family seldom invite her over, usually only when they have no choice. (If she comes to a wedding, we hope the priest is coming too so we can sit him next to her......just saying.) If we really love the Lord, then we can't allow Aunt Martha to remain alone in whatever anger she is currently stewing. If we try to be kind to her, whether she accepts our kindness or not, then at least we are opening the door to the Lord's love for her. We would then be feeding His sheep. Nor can we claim to love the Lord and ignore the strangers in our area. Immigrants need to be cared for, not persecuted. We need to work for some solution to the homeless problem. We need to be standing up to hatred and bigotry wherever it exists. The victims of hatred are the Lord's sheep. If we love the Lord, then we need to feed His Sheep. The night is cold, the world is cold, but the love of the Lord is a fire that sets our hearts ablaze. May we be determined to spread this fire. May we have the courage to feed His sheep.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
3 Easter
Come, Have Breakfast (May 5, 2019)

Bottom line: "Come, have breakfast." Jesus says. The shared fish and bread underscore the physical connection with Jesus and through him one to another. Last Sunday we saw that Jesus offers a two-step program. First, faith or trust. "Do not be unbelieving but believe." Second, touch Jesus - his wounds. Connect with Jesus in all his dimensions - spiritual and physical. We see the two steps in today's Gospel. The seven disciples toil all night and come up empty. At dawn they make out a figure on the shore. He tells them to put out their nets one more time. In spite of their exhaustion they do it. They get an enormous catch. Their act of faith pays off - big time. Do not be unbelieving but believe. That's the first step - believe, trust Jesus. Then we have the second step: the physical connection with Jesus.

At his word Peter drags the net ashore and brings a few of the fish. Along with some bread Jesus prepares a meal loaded with omega-3's. :) "Come, have breakfast." he says. The shared fish and bread underscore the physical connection with Jesus and through him one to another. This leads into the Annual Catholic Appeal. Do you remember the first part of our parish mission statement? "Blessed to live in this beautiful valley, we are Christians, in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Sartain..." Regarding their ministry did you notice that when Peter drags the net ashore, it doesn't get torn? It's not easy to keep the net intact. We can always find reasons for pulling away from our pope and bishop.

Yet Jesus has given them an essential ministry. The Annual Catholic Appeal expresses the union we have beyond our local parish. The huge catch - 153 fish - indicates that we belong to something big - a universal church. I thank those who have already made a pledge to the Appeal. I ask us all to take that step. To help understand the importance of the Appeal and how we can participate, please give your full attention to...

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
3 Easter

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
3 Easter
Third Sunday of Easter

The Gospel today focuses on Peter and it is a most interesting one. This particular extract is sometimes used in the ceremony of the installation of a Pope. At his installation it is solemnly read to the new Pope as a sort of warning at the start of his important new ministry. After the death of Jesus here in John's Gospel the Apostles have returned to Galilee presumably out of desolation and a sense of defeat after the crucifixion. And they do what anyone else would do; they go back to what they know, and in their case that is fishing. They return to the routine tasks, to the things they know so well. They return to the job that was their livelihood but which is so second nature to them that in desperate times to take it up again gives them a real sense of reassurance. We shouldn't interpret this return to Galilee as any sort of failure or believe that it demonstrates lack of faith. There are several mentions in the scriptures that Jesus stated that he would meet his disciples in Galilee and so it quite is reasonable to find them there.

As they go through these comforting and routine tasks in the boat, the Apostles see Jesus on the shore; though, as in so many of the resurrection appearances, at first they do not recognise him. They do what the man on the shore tells them and find that they have a tremendous haul of fish. This, of course, takes them right back to another similar miraculous haul of fish and they begin to realise it can only be Jesus. Peter then makes his profession of faith and half-naked jumps out of the boat to greet Jesus. Then follows what we can only call the rehabilitation of Peter. He is rehabilitated after the three-fold denial on the night of Jesus' arrest and he is given confirmation of his role as Chief of the Apostles, but he is also given some clarification of what this role is to mean personally for him. Jesus has cooked breakfast for the Apostles and this meal is full of Eucharistic overtones as for example in the words, 'he took bread and gave it to them.'

This meal reminds them very clearly of the Last Supper. But the little charcoal fire also has a role. It is a very potent reminder of the charcoal fire with which Peter warmed himself that fateful night and where he made his three-fold denial that he was one of Christ's followers. By this time even the slowest among the Apostles realises it is the Christ. Jesus then shows them what he is truly like and in that most beautiful passage he so gently and lovingly forgives Peter. But this forgiveness is not just gentle and loving it is also very thorough, he forgives him three times one for each of his denials. And with each of these absolutions he gives him a commission: 'feed my lambs.' He is to be the undisputed shepherd of Christ's flock. We can understand forgiveness but it is more difficult for us to do what Jesus does.

We would forgive but still be cautious and we would probably want Peter to prove himself before giving him any sort of task, let alone confirming him in his role as Christ's representative on earth. But as Peter says, 'It is the Lord,' and we know that the Lord does things differently from us. But we also know that it is our task in life to learn the ways of the Lord, to do things as he does them; to appreciate his ways and to imitate them in our lives. What he wants is our love; not because he commands it, not out of duty or for any personal benefit. No, he wants us to love him freely and without compulsion. He asks Peter three times, 'Do you love me.' By this he is not demanding anything of Peter but showing by this three-fold questioning the depth of his own love for Peter.

It is this tenderness, this depth of love that we see in Jesus that we want to imitate in our own lives. If we could only find it within us to react in such a way when we have experienced rejection what different people we would be. I mentioned earlier that this particular text is sometimes the one chosen to be read to a new Pope at his installation. And on that occasion it is the last section that is the most poignant. 'When you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go.' What is being referred to here is the binding of the hands of one who his to be crucified and then him being led to the place of execution. We know that this was to be the fate of Peter and that he was crucified in Rome right next to where St Peter's Basilica now stands. The last words of today's text are the most devastating of all: 'After this he said, “Follow me.”' Peter was to follow Christ and dedicate his whole life to him and work tirelessly for the spread of the Gospel. But he was also to imitate Christ in his death. He was literally asked to give his life for Christ. Martyrdom is unlikely to be asked of any one of us here, although one never knows.

But there are many different kinds of martyrdom. Not all are asked to be nailed to a cross like Peter, to be beheaded like a Thomas More, or burned at the stake like a Joan of Arc. But we will all die. And at the moment of our death we can give ourselves to God, we can make it a sort of spiritual martyrdom, an ultimate surrender to the will of God. We pray each day asking Mary to be with us in the hour of our death and we do so with good reason for we know that is the most important hour of our lives; we know that it is literally the moment of truth for us all. Peter was found wanting as he warmed himself by that charcoal fire on the night of Jesus' arrest; I'm sure that he never felt so cold as he did through the humiliation he received that night. But never was there a fire so warming as that little pile of charcoal on the shore that morning in Galilee.

These homilies may be copied and adapted for your own use; however, they may not be commercially published without permission of the author.