Third Sunday of Easter: The New Way
Franciscan reflections from the Hermitage –
The New Way – Third Sunday of Easter – John 21:1-19 –
“I’m going fishing!” Peter, called away from your fishing boats to become a fisher of men; how quickly you have forgotten. You were called to strengthen and encourage the brethren; how quickly you have forgotten. You were given the Great Commandment, a New Commandment, to Love one another, to Love one another as Jesus Loved you; by this Love you will be known as disciples of Jesus; how quickly you have forgotten.
Jesus rebuked equally enemies, strangers, and close friends, but the greatest rebuke was for you Peter, the first among equals, and commissioned to be the foundation of the church of Christ. Now once more you meet the risen Jesus waiting for you with a prepared meal. A meal waiting for us also in the assembly of the Beloved.
Peter, you have left the brethren, you have left the community, you have left the assembly ‘to go fishing’. Here is Jesus waiting for you, to teach you, to reprove you, and to remind you in a way that you will never forget.
No longer are you addressed as Peter, the rock of the church, but as Simon son of John; what a stinging rebuke. Three times this rebuke is repeated to mirror Peters’ forgetfulness of the commandment of Love, a Love that must replicate Jesus’ own Love, a Love that must give of itself completely, that lays down its own life for the other; how quickly you have forgotten.
Do you understand the cost of being my disciple; to keep nothing of yourself for yourself?… to pour yourself out like a sacrifice for the sake of the other… this is agape Love… this is the cost of discipleship.
Twice Simon, son of John, offers filial Love, the Love between brothers and sisters. This is not enough to be the disciple of Jesus. Now Peter remembers the promise, “where else can we go!” At last Simon, son of John, understands what true discipleship costs; and then Jesus says to Peter “Follow me”.
Jesus teaches us the way to Love, the way to admonish and reprove, and also the way to encourage. This is the Way that we are also called to follow.
We also follow distractions, forgetting the Way of Jesus the Christ. This is the New Way that we have been given by Jesus the Christ, a Way that is totally non-violent, the way that is communal and loving. We also forget and create communities devoid of every aspect of Jesus’ teaching; a way that is warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain. No, God does not give to the children a snake when they ask for bread.
We too forget and want distractions, to go fishing, to look away from the suffering, the injustice, the great need, to wash our hands of the whole sorry mess; the way of of the empire … let us recall Pilate! Jesus calls Peter back, back to the brethren, back to the community, back to the Assembly of the Beloved. Jesus also calls us in the same way. The way of separation, exclusion, and forgetfulness is not the way of Jesus.
Each one of us, no matter what our status, is the church, is a part of the body, and is subject to rebuke and correction; no one can be excluded for all have sinned and fall short of the commandment of Love.
Let our rebuke and correction be transparent, equal but always with compassion and the same mercy that God has shown to us. Let us together as church forego all our claims to rank and privilege, forego our pride and deceit.
Let us call each other back to this New Way through that light of Christ that shines out through each of us, through our brokenness.