Grant us the courage, God of the resurrection to be touched by you,to be fed by your words even as Jesus fed his friends with food and with comfort. Amen.
There are moments in this lifetime all we want is the familiar. Nothing new, nothing strange, no new friends to meet, nothing that will change the day into something unexpected. This is the disciples that day at the sea. Tired of waiting behind closed doors, finally feeling the freedom of sea air and breeze they do what is natural to them: they go fishing. These past days have been anything but familiar. From that magnificent entry into Jerusalem with the crowds ‘Alleluia’s’ vibrant in the air, to the week with friends and more time with their beloved Jesus. Then the crush of such agony they cannot imagine how they could have survived.
Betrayal…arrest…denials…mock trial…execution and fright beyond understanding.
Now the empty tomb and Jesus’ appearing. Nothing is quite so comforting after such an upheaval as what is already known. This is their time and space to ponder, to reflect upon what they have just experienced. And we do the same by responding to emotional overload with quiet and familiarity. Most of us have seen toddlers in a stroller with head lolled to the side sound asleep as they are being pushed through a very loud mall. Sound overload!
In the midst of fishing all night the disciples finally find Jesus has been waiting for them It’s the beloved disciple who recognizes him first, for who but the beloved one will recognize the other before anyone else? In our own times of quiet immersion we may very well find Jesus is waiting for us. In the very ordinary times of coming away from the noise of the world God enters quietly, unobtrusively to let us know we are loved. But it is the making of that time that often seems the hardest. Yet we must. To be so busy we do not recognize Jesus in our lives is to be too busy.
This week’s gospel reading is a postscript. From last week’s reading it seemed this gospel was finished. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” Yet here is another unforgettable scene between Jesus and his disciples. It is his offering to them for instruction (when in doubt, try the other side of the boat) another meal (food is good when one has been up all night) seeing Jesus in a new way (resurrection means he won’t look or be the same) and an offering of grace (good thing to embrace and invite).
This third encounter between Jesus and his disciples in this gospel reminds us that his ministry is not past. It brings us full circle back to chapter One of the light shining in the darkness but the darkness cannot overcome such light. Our own memories of darkness may be all too familiar. yet no dark, no dark night of the soul can extinguish the light of Jesus in our own souls. The epilogue of the gospel is completed: it was time for the disciples and for us to move past this last scene into what will lie beyond for them and for us. The light of Jesus still beams across the centuries and it is time for faithful followers past, present and future to shine with it as well. Amen.