1 May 2022 at St William, St Elizabeth Seton, and St Peter Catholic Churches in Naples, FL
Acts of the Apostles 5, 27-32 + Psalm 30 + Revelation 5, 11-14 + John 21, 1-19
Two charcoal fires burn in John’s Gospel. The first warms Peter in the courtyard of the High Priest when as predicted, Peter denies his master three times. Today another charcoal fire burns, and Jesus invites Peter to atone for his cowardice by confessing his love three times. Each time Peter is asked to show that love by service: “Feed my lambs.” Then as before Jesus predicts something about Peter saying that this service may take him where he does not want to go. Taking a stand for the unborn, the homeless, the voiceless, the hungry, the harassed, and the condemned will sometimes take us where we might not want to go. The social justice of the Church rooted in the Gospel leads us all where we might not want to go. But, that is where those who love God are most often found.
The symbolism of John’s style almost explodes with the verses we proclaim today. As always, it is God who speaks when this Gospel is proclaimed here speaking of loving service, speaking about us, the Church, symbolized by that unbroken net which can hold everyone and not be broken. It’s a net that will hold sinners and saints, black, brown, yellow, and white, regardless of their sexuality, gender, language, or political preferences. That number, 153 in John’s Gospel, says it all.
Yet, that is not the only number in this Gospel giving us something to ponder. There are 7 in that boat, and he names six leaving us to ask if we might be the unnamed who completes the “perfect number, seven.” We are here about to be fed on what is blessed, broken, and given. We are, like Peter, slow to get it right, slow in running to that empty tomb, slow to put aside the fears that sometimes keep us locked up, silent, and ashamed. Yet, we are here, in the daylight recognizing that in the dark, at night, without the light of Christ, we can do nothing.
The risen one asks us all: “Do you love me?” And now he waits for us to show it.