Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the details, details, details. What is religion for? What would cause a grown man to jump into a lake with his clothes on? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Easter to find out. Please read John 21:1-19. For Audio, “Read More” below. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887 #GreatPreaching #John21 #Peter #Salvation #HeIsRisen #Sermons #Homilies
For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/14/2013The 3rd Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read John 21:1-19.
Fr. Larry Hennessey, a former Jesuit and a professor at Mundelein Seminary used to point downward with his finger and spin it around and around and say to us who were training to be priests, “Now, brothers, this whole endeavor is about one thing: salvation.”
In a world where there was Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuler and now Joel Osteen, where we are taught that religion is about healing the soul and self improvement, Fr. Hennessey was reminding us that what we are really about, why we believe is for the purpose of salvation. That would be our own personal salvation AND the salvation of all the other people of the world.
Hennessey would say, “Now, our time is limited here, don’t you know. We must avail ourselves of the opportunity that Jesus has given us. Isn’t that right?” In this, he would instill in us, studying to become Catholic priests, that the purpose of our future ordination wasn’t us, but it was the salvation of the world. It is a lesson that my enflamed heart loved and that we should remind ourselves of everyday.
The passage from the Gospel of St. John tells the same message to us. Sometimes when we hear these stories, these miracle stories that have a formula where the stage is set, the miracle happens and then Jesus is recognized, and they become too familiar. The details are truly important in this particular story at the end of the Johannine Gospel.
First, Jesus “reveals himself” to a group of people on the beach of the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee. This little detail tells us a few things. It tells us that among those to whom Jesus presented himself were apostles, Peter, Thomas and John the Beloved, and disciples who are not named. It is key because Jesus revealed himself to both apostles and lay people. This means that Jesus still reveals himself to priest and lay people. We are together in Christ and need each other to complete mission.
The next thing this opening setting tells us is that Jesus appeared repeatedly and in places other than in locked rooms in Jerusalem to his followers after his Resurrection. This is important because revelation and relations with Christ come from all over the world, not just in Rome or in Jerusalem. There is an universality to the Gospel message.
After Jesus appears to them, he tells them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. When they did, they were no longer strong enough to draw the net out of the water due to their fatigue and the multitude of fish in the net. This is key because the same word in Greek that is used for “to draw toward” is the same one that is used in John 6:44, where Jesus says, “No one is able to come to me unless they have been drawn by the Father.” It is the same word used in 12:32 when he says, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” Here we have the mission being given to all of God’s people, “to draw in the net of fish for Christ”. Of course, for us, it is a net for fishing for people to follow Christ.
There is the detail of Peter being restored three times to counter act the three times he denied the Lord. Rich in its forgiveness, this account shows that the entire encounter with Christ on the beach is a preparing of the Church for the salvation of the world. Christ feeds us, forgives us and sends us out into the world for the salvation of others.
Yet, when I have given talks about evangelization to Churches Catholic and Churches Protestant, they all know they are to evangelize, but they are skiddish about it. Everyone thinks that they have to be theologians to evangelize. Yet, think about the commissioning that is happening in this passage from John. There has not been worked out any understanding of the Resurrection at this point in the history of the Church. Most have not idea what Christ is talking about. If they did, they wouldn’t have been fishing after Jesus appeared to them in Jerusalem as was stated in last week’s reading, they would have been evangelizing already.
The key to evangelization is what we see Peter do in verse 7. Here, John identifies the Lord. Then Peter, the Greek says he was naked from fishing at night, is caught between the propriety of being with Jesus which would require him to put on his clothing and his excitement at being with Jesus. Clearly a man does not dress to swim 100 yards to the shore. To highlight the absurdity of Peter, John tells us that the others just came in on the boat because they were so close.
The point that Peter makes for us is that what drives us and prepares us for taking salvation to the world is a relationship with Christ that is excited, enthusiastic and would do even the ridiculous because we believe. You don’t have to be a theologian. You don’t have to be clergy. You don’t have to have a clear understanding of all the doctrine and dogma. You DO have to have relationship with Christ. You DO have to have an enthusiasm for that relationship. You DO have to share it with others to draw them closer to Christ in a net of salvation offered freely to all.
This week you should ask yourself, “What does Christ mean to me and my life?” Make a list of the people you should invite to Church. Ask them to come with you. If you feel ridiculous, think of how ridiculous it was for the chief apostle to put his clothing on and then jump into a lake.
As Hennessey says, it is about salvation. Our lives are about spreading the net and drawing in the people who would be, need to be and eventually will want to be closer to God. Amen? Amen.
On another personal note this week, I would like to wish Happy Birthday to my engineer for these podcasts, Armand Ciabattari who celebrated his birthday on Friday. Armand is not only a great sound man, he is also a great friend and a faithful follower of Jesus. Happy Birthday, Armand.
This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2013.