This week we begin the Third Week of Easter and the third MONTH of the war in Ukraine. Thursday past was an International Day of Prayer for peace – very much needed in these times. And, generally since 1955, when May 1 does not fall on a Sunday, we celebrate St. Joseph, the Worker.
Liturgically, each day since Easter we’ve heard post-Resurrection stories of personal encounters. The Resurrected Christ has appeared to Mary and called her by name, visited the disciples and his mother Mary in the Upper Room to breathe peace upon them.
We’ve heard the story of how Jesus slipped in and out of the company of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In John’s narrative Peter’s head was whirling at all that was going on. It appears his message to the others was: “This is too much for me; I’m going to clear my head; I’ll be back later. I’m going fishing!” A few of the others jumped aboard. At daybreak a very human Jesus appeared to these disciples who’d spent a night of non-productive fishing. We know that Jesus must have known this but still he calls to them: “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” Then he suggests to them that they toss the nets on the other side of the boat. And, lo and behold, the nets encircle 153 large fish! No one dared ask him: “Who are you?” To their astonishment, Jesus invites: “Come, have breakfast.”
By Saturday (a week ago) we step back to the day following the resurrection. We meet up with Mary, faithful witness to the end and first to meet the Resurrected Christ. She is on her unsuccessful mission to tell the companions of Jesus: “He is alive!”
Last Sunday the church made sure that we heard the message that Jesus came a second time to the group in the upper room. Again, He came right through “locked doors.” He greeted the fearful group: “Peace!” And, turned to address Thomas to quiet his fear that the one the disciples claimed they had seen a week ago might be an imposter. Nothing can keep Jesus away from those who have been his companions for 3 years. Jesus has become comfortable enough with them to expose his vulnerability: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it…. I thirst. When tiredness overtakes him he sleeps in the boat until cries for help rouse him to alertness.
At that 2nd visit in the Upper Room Jesus praises those who do not seek proof. On the other hand, neither does he condemn those who seek a sign. He meets us where we are on our faith journey. He does not condemn Thomas for wanting to see proof in the nail marks. Instead, he offers living proof to help his unbelief. “See my hands; put your finger here.” And then He nurtures maturity in faith when he says: “Blessed are they who have not seen but have believed.”
Monday, this past week found us with the eleven off on our life’s mission having witnessed Jesus being taken up to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God. There is an exchange with Nicodemus about the wind: from whence does it come, and where does it go? Jesus gently tries to explain, “If I tell you of earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” If only we understood that seeing may not be believing but believing can bring sight.
The lessons remembered by John continue. “God does not ration the gifts of the Spirit; the Father gives everything to the Son.” As evening grows long, the disciples went down to the sea. It grew dark as they rested and rowed and drifted in the boat. When, they were 3-4 miles from shore, one after the other perked up and pointed to a silhouette of a man who appeared to be walking on the water toward them a calming voice was heard: “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Those who are familiar with the voice of God will immediately recognize when Jesus speaks.
For today we hear a curious detail. John relates that before Peter jumped from the boat into the sea, he grabbed his clothing “for he was lightly clad.” He put on more clothes to jump into the water? Isn’t that typical of what we tend to do? We don’t want to leave anything behind even when it only adds weight to our journey. What does Jesus tell us to do? Not, grab all your belongings, we’re going on a journey of a lifetime. Rather he says: “Feed my sheep; feed my lambs. Follow me!”
What is your excess baggage? What needs to be left behind? We have to clear out old expectations if we are to have room to welcome new experiences.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
We’ve learned from the family of Shawnn Leach (our cook) who died at home on Thursday, April 21, that as an organ donor Shawnn’s “gift of life” benefited 25 individuals. God bless them and God reward Shawnn with eternal rest and happiness!