Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Reinstatement of Peter

Volume 4 No. 217 May 2, 2014

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_217.htm

Archives: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/Default.htm

Jesus after Resurrection - Reinstatement of Peter
Jesus Reinstating Peter at the Sea of Tiberias - Feed My Sheep
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

1. Foreword: Imperfect With Scars; Broken, Not Destroyed - A Savior Who Grants Second Chances by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

Going home to hide from Jesus isn't an option, because he knows where we live. He stands on the shores of our lives. He stands at our front doors. And when we answer his knock, he has just two questions for us: 'Do you love me?' and, if so, 'What are you going to do about it?' ...

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 4)

Bible Readings For The First Sunday after New Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_1st-sun-after-new-sunday.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (May 4)

Sermons for the First Sunday After New Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

4. Inspiration for Today: We Are Like Trees by Diviya Jacob, Columbus, Ohio

5. Peter - A Saint for the Rest of Us by Rev. John Jay Hughes

The Gospels show us two sides of Peter. He could be impulsive and hot-tempered, but also fearful. Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of one of those who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Olives. Peter boasted that though all others might betray the Lord, he would never do so -- only to deny, within hours, that he even knew Jesus. Moments later he shed bitter tears of repentance at his weakness. ...

6. Following Jesus Once More by the Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt

Have you ever found yourself in the dark place of fear or uncertainty the disciples appear to be in at the start of today's story? What was that like? How were you led out of it? Or are you still there? If that is the case, how might this story offer direction or hope to you now? ...

7. Back to the Future - A Meditation on John John 21 By: Msgr. Charles Pope

This is a critical gospel that shows us that Jesus summoning the disciples back to their crucial call, a call that has its focus not in the past but in the future. Indeed, fellow believer, if this gospel had not gone right, your faith and mine might well have been in jeopardy. To make it plain, you and I are the future the Jesus sought to preserve in this crucial gospel. Our own coming to the faith depends on whether Jesus is able to summon Peter and the other apostles back to the future. Let's look at this gospel in four stages. ...

8. Stretched Out by Andrew Prior

Sometimes Peter wishes he could just be a fisherman. When he is so tired that it hurts; when he gives everything, and it's still not enough, and he imagines the disciple whom Jesus loved looking down on him with that knowing, superior smile. When it feels like his hands have been stretched out and life has him hanging already.

But he will remember, too, the days when the nets are full, and nothing tears, or aches. You feel like you can haul in the whole world. The water is warm, and you know life in all its fullness. Sunny afternoons when the world never ends. So he stretches out his arms again and follows on. Where else would he go? ...

9. Commentary of the Day by Saint Gregory the Great

What does the sea indicate but the present age, which is disturbed by the uproar of circumstances and the commotion of this perishable life? What does the solidity of the shore signify but the uninterrupted continuance of eternal peace? Therefore since the disciples were still held in the waves of this mortal life, they were laboring on the sea. ...

10. Peter by Frederick Buechner

According to Paul, the first person Jesus came back to see after Easter morning was Peter. What he said and what Peter said nobody will ever know, and maybe that's just as well. Their last conversation on this earth, however, is reported in the Gospel of John. ...

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep," and you get the feeling that this time Peter didn't miss the point (John 21:9-19). From fisher of fish to fisher of people to keeper of the keys to shepherd. It was the Rock's final promotion, and from that day forward he never let the head office down again. ...

11. Health: Lying to Your Doctor Has Unintended Consequences by Robert J. Hedaya, M.D.

I was in practice for probably 20 or more years before I realized that some times my patients lie to me about how they are doing, and whether they are following our jointly agreed upon recommendations. I am prompted to write about this, because a week ago I had an experience where a patient told me that she was lying to her other doctor. ...

12. Recipe: Garlic Chicken

13. Family Special: Your Dead Will Live - What Resurrection Teaches Us by Debbie Holloway

Many of us have strained familial relationships that seem only to worsen when we get together for meals and services around the holidays. Do you pray for the members of your family regularly? Are you willing to open up your heart to start loving them the way God loves each and every one of them? ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword: Imperfect With Scars; Broken, Not Destroyed - A Savior Who Grants Second Chances

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World

The more I look and study Christianity, the more I love it. Christianity is the only religion that can claim a resurrected savior. It is the religion of second chances. Our savior Jesus Christ, after living as a human being with us after his incarnation, experienced all the emotions we go through, the ups and downs in our lives and how Satan tempts us when we think we had it all. We have a savior who cries with us when we cry and provide a shoulder to lean on when we need support; a savior who only knows how to love us, a savior who allows us to make our choices and rejoices when we turn away from evil ways and return to Him like the father of the prodigal son who welcomed his son with outstretched arms when he returned.

Yes, Christianity is a religion of Second Chances. Peter knew it first hand. When Jesus predicted, correctly, that Peter will deny him three times before the rooster crows three times, Peter vehemently denied that saying that he would rather die than denying his savior. Yes, we know the story. Peter denied Jesus three times standing beside a coal fire in the Head Priests' compound. Then he was overcame with guilt and remorse and ran away abandoning Jesus altogether. What a "rock" Jesus had picked to lead His church!

If we had a friend like Peter, that would have been the end of our friendship. "With a friend like that who needs enemies?" But not to Jesus, our Savior. Jesus knows that there are no perfect people in this world. Everyone has sinned. His job was to seek the sinners and lead them back to light. David, another sinner, said in Psalm 51:

16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart -
These, O God, You will not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NKJV)

This is a favorite verse of mine - a contrite heart - in Malayalam it is even better, "njuringiya hrudayam" - a broken heart, broken but healed with repentance , but leaving all the scars on it - like Jesus appearing after the resurrection with scars of the nail marks and other injuries on his body. The scars remain as a testament to what we went through.

God does not want anything from us. He wants our love and our contrite heart.

The denials of Peter didn't surprise Jesus; he already predicted it. It was only a surprise to Peter ad the rest of the disciples. So, what does Jesus do? There is a small phrase embedded in the Gospel reading on Easter, viz., Mark 16:1-8, that gives an important clue. Most people either misses it or don't pay any attention to it. Let us take a look. The context is the women appearing at the tomb early Sunday morning with spices and seeing the angels sitting there. They were afraid. One angel tells them:

6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you." - Mark 16:6-7 (NKJV)

Did you see the mystery buried here? Read the verse 7 again.

Go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is ....

Tell his disciples; but make sure you tell Peter. The first priority of Jesus was to reinstate Peter. Jesus knows our heart. He knows that Peter was overwhelmed with sadness and guilt and will be afraid to come in front of Jesus after what he did on Good Friday. But Jesus want to make sure that Peter is there to meet him experience the power of forgiveness. (Yes, there are second chances!)

I like the way Frederick Buechner describe this reinstatement of Peter:

According to Paul, the first person Jesus came back to see after Easter morning was Peter. What he said and what Peter said nobody will ever know, and maybe that's just as well. Their last conversation on this earth, however, is reported in the Gospel of John.

It was on the beach, at daybreak. Some of the other disciples were there, and Jesus cooked them breakfast. When it was over, he said to Peter (only again he called him Simon, son of John, because if ever he meant business, this was it), "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" and Peter said he did. Then Jesus asked the same question a second time and then once again, and each time Peter said he loved him -three times in all, to make up for the other three times.

Then Jesus said, "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep;" and you get the feeling that this time Peter didn't miss the point (John 21:9-19).

From fisher of fish to fisher of people to keeper of the keys to shepherd. It was the Rock's final promotion, and from that day forward he never let the head office down again. (1) (emphasis mine.)

Jesus knew the rock. He knew that a house built on a rock can withstand wind and rains and other calamities unlike a house built on sand. But it takes longer to put foundation in a rock. Once Peter, the rock, had the foundation in place, he never looked back. He was martyred on a cross, like his savior, but upside down from what tradition tells us. Read the article, Peter - A Saint for the Rest of Us by Rev. John Jay Hughes in today's Journal.

It is not easy to pick up the broken pieces and put them together again. It takes courage and strength. Most of us don't want to face the bad times again. (Soldiers who try to recall the memories of war suffer from PTSD - a major psychiatric disorder that can debilitate you unless it is properly treated.) Peter just want to escape from it all. He dreaded facing Jesus. But Jesus knew that it is important for Peter to face it again and to make sure that other disciples recognize that Peter is still the rock that Jesus wants to build his church on.

Peter had to pick up the pieces of his broken life. Peter was eating breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with the resurrected Jesus. Dirty, wet and tired from fishing all night and catching nothing, he huddled around a "fire of burning coals." As he extended the palms of his hands to warm himself before the crackling fire, Jesus asked Peter not once, but three times, "Peter, do you really love me?" Three times Peter responded, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

John writes that "Peter was hurt" by Jesus' query. The triple question evoked a deeply painful memory of his triple denial. (like the veterans suffering from PTSD) The last time he stood around a campfire just a few days earlier, he denied three times that he even knew Jesus. But now Jesus reinstates Peter three times with the words, "Feed my sheep," and despite his bitter past he went on to become the movement's leader.

Broken and put it back together with the scars intact! There is another famous person in the bible who went through the same process in the bible. It was Paul. Saul took pride in persecuting Christians. He "breathed out murderous threats" and aggressively sought to imprison believers. He took lead in killing Stephen, the first known martyr. But then something happened.

Acts 9:1–20 describes Paul's Damascus Road conversion. After his conversion, the greatest persecutor of the church became its greatest propagator, eventually traveling over 10,000 miles to spread the good news of God's love.

But the memories of Paul's past always cast a dark shadow. Even as an old man Paul remembered his sordid past to the younger Timothy with remarkable candor: "I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man." He considered himself "the worst of sinners." But as with Peter's restoration, after his conversion Paul also transcended his past, however imperfectly: "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward." (2)

There is a lesson to be learned from the experiences of Peter and Paul. We will occasionally fail. But the key is to never give up. Keep our end goal in focus and move on. Never lose faith or hope.

"Should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord’s love," encouraged St. Peter of Damaskos (12th century); "let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again."

We cannot hide from God. Adam and Eve, tried to do so after disobeying God. But they were caught. Jonah tried to run away from God so he does not have to go to Nineveh. Well, he didn't succeed. Peter tried to escape from meeting Jesus face to face by going back to fishing after Easter. As today's Gospel shows, he didn't succeed either. Alyce M. McKenzie (3) observed:

"Going home to hide from Jesus isn't an option, because he knows where we live. He stands on the shores of our lives. He stands at our front doors. And when we answer his knock, he has just two questions for us: 'Do you love me?' and, if so, 'What are you going to do about it?'"

Please read that again. What will be your answer?

John's Gospel is rich with signs, imagery and mystery. Today's passage is a great example. Here are some interesting details we can observe:

• John's Gospel has two charcoal fire scenes. In chapter 18, Peter denied Jesus three times. In chapter 21, Peter professed his love for Jesus three times. Love heals his sins and reunites him to Jesus.

• From love comes deeds, namely feeding and tending Jesus' lambs and sheep (John 21:15-17), even if the actions cost one's life (John 21:18). The lambs and sheep belong to Jesus, not Peter.

• Love also gives light: the beloved disciple recognized Jesus first (John 21:7). John's love also gave him advantages over Peter in other situations: John sat next to Jesus at the last supper (John 13:23); Peter relied on John to ask Jesus a question (John 13:24-25); and John, like Jesus, entered Caiapha's courtyard through the gate like a true shepherd, while Peter had to wait for John to lead him in like a sheep.

• Regardless of an apparent pride among John's disciples about John's closeness to Jesus, they acknowledge in this appendix, John chapter 21, that Jesus chose Peter to be the leader, but only after Peter professed what John has abundantly, namely love for Jesus.

• The meal that Jesus prepares (John 21:9-13) is an Eucharistic symbol. The disciples bring the whole world (153 fish) to Christ in this meal. The untorn net holding all these fish together points to a unity.

Aren't you glad that we have a second chance? Whatever we had done before, it does not matter. Repent, confess and accept the Holy the Qurbana - the body and blood of Jesus that was shed in Calvary for the remission of our sins and for our salvation. No matter what, the sins may have made us look like crimson in color, but they will be made white as snow. Jesus can wipe them clean. But don't try to hide from Jesus. He knows our heart. He knows what we think. He knows how we feel. Take his cross and follow Him. We will be healed like Peter, Paul, David and others.

References:

1. Peter by Frederick Buechner - First published in Peculiar Treasures and reprinted in Beyond Words and in Buechner Center Blog

2 Picking Up the Broken Pieces by Dr. Dan Clendenin

3. "You Can Run, But You Can't Hide: Reflections on John 21:1-19" by Alyce M. McKenzie, Edgy Exegesis, 2013.
 

Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 4)

Sermons for This Sunday (May 4)
Inspiration for Today: We Are Like Trees

by Diviya Jacob, Columbus, Ohio

We are much like trees that start out as seeds in the ground. Its healthy growth thereupon is determined by its habitat. Much as good soil, light, water and nutrients support strengthening of the roots of the tree, our spiritual growth is influenced on various factors that surround us. Our spiritual root is nurtured and strengthened by the support of the Word, family, friends, church and community so that in time of testing we are unshakeable in faith.

Peter: A Saint for the Rest of Us

by Rev. John Jay Hughes

On the ancient Appian Way south of Rome, there is a small church with a Latin name: Domine quo vadis ("Lord, where are you going?"). It commemorates a legend beloved of preachers since St. Ambrose, who used it in a sermon in the Milan cathedral. The legend says that during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Nero in 64, Peter fled Rome. As he hurried along under the cover of darkness, he encountered a man walking in the opposite direction.

"Where are you going?" Peter asked.

"I am going to Rome," the traveler replied, "to be crucified afresh."

Peter recognized the voice at once. It was Jesus, returning to suffer death again, because His followers were suffering there. Conscience-stricken, Peter turned back toward the city, whereupon his companion vanished. When Nero's officials arrested him the next day, Peter insisted that they crucify him upside down. He wanted to die like his Master, but felt unworthy to do so in just the same way.

The popularity of this legend is understandable. It goes straight to the heart: to the weakness that is in each of us, but also to our longing for one last chance to live up to the highest and best within us.

The man whose weakness and loyalty the story illustrates was born in Bethsaida, a fishing town on the east bank of the Jordan River just above the Sea of Galilee. His father, Jonah (in English, John), was a fisherman who had named his son Simon. Together with his brother Andrew, Simon became a fisherman like his father. Luke's Gospel tells us that the brothers shared the fishing business with Zebedee and his two sons, James and John (Lk 5:10). Simon was married, and his mother-in-law, whom the Gospels tell us was cured one day by Jesus, lived in Capernaum.

Modern excavations at Capernaum have discovered fish hooks and remains of a small ancient church with graffiti invocations of Peter. Luke's Gospel tells us that Simon and Andrew, with their partners James and John, were the first four disciples of Jesus. In keeping with the custom of the day, according to which a Jewish rabbi had five disciples, Jesus soon called a fifth, Levi, know to us as Matthew.

The Gospels show us two sides of Peter. He could be impulsive and hot-tempered, but also fearful. Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of one of those who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Olives. Peter boasted that though all others might betray the Lord, he would never do so -- only to deny, within hours, that he even knew Jesus. Moments later he shed bitter tears of repentance at his weakness.

Peter's spiritual journey starts on a day when he is busy fishing with his partners. Jesus appears with a large crowd and asks to borrow Peter's boat, from which Jesus could preach and be seen and heard on the shore. When Jesus finishes speaking, He invites Peter to put out into the deep water and let down his net for a catch. Peter knew it was futile; he and his partners had been hard at it all night and caught nothing. Peter still did not know Jesus, but something about this man made it impossible for Peter to refuse Him. We know the sequel: a catch so large that the net was in danger of breaking, and they had to call to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.

Peter's reaction was that of everyone in Holy Scripture who encounters the Lord: a sense of his own unworthiness. Throwing himself down at the feet of Jesus, with the fish flopping all around him in the boat, Peter blurts out: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Jesus tells Peter that he is being called to something far greater that this unexpected catch of fish: "I will make you a fisher of men." With his partners, Peter leaves his boat -- his livelihood -- and becomes Christ's disciple.

The next stage on Peter's spiritual journey comes when Jesus asks His disciples: "Who do men say that I am?" They reply: "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Not satisfied with this general answer, Jesus asks another question: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answers in the name of all: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus responds by giving Simon a new name: Peter. In Jesus' Aramaic language, "Peter" means "rock." Calling this impulsive man "Rock" was something like calling a 300-pound heavyweight "Slim." St. Augustine says that the rock on which Jesus said He would build His Church was not Peter himself, but Peter's faith.

Peter's concept of the Messiah was common among Jews of his day: a person of might and power who would oust the hated Roman occupiers in Palestine and inaugurate an age of peace and prosperity. But Jesus' role, as He explained it, was radically different. Hence, He tells Peter and the other disciples they must not publicize His true identity -- that would raise false expectations. He was headed not for worldly success but for death at the hands of the leaders of His own people. Peter, impulsive as always, protests loudly: "God forbid that any such thing ever happen to you!" Jesus rebukes Peter harshly: "Get out of my sight, you Satan! You are trying to make me trip and fall. You are not judging by God's standards but by man's."

Pope Benedict XVI commented on this scene:

Peter wanted as Messiah a "divine man", who fulfilled people's expectations, imposing his force upon everyone. We also want the Lord to impose his force and transform the world immediately; yet Jesus presented himself as the "human" God, who overturned the expectations of the multitude by following the path of humility and suffering. It is the great alternative, which we also must learn again: to favor our own expectations [and] reject Jesus; or to accept Jesus in the truth of his mission and lay aside [our] too human expectations.

Benedict calls this Peter's second call. Like Peter, we "expect God to be strong in the world," the pope says, and that he transform the world immediately, according to our ideas and the needs we see. God opts for another way. God chooses the way of the transformation of hearts in suffering and humility. And we, like Peter, must always be converted again. We must follow Jesus and not precede him . . . . And we must have the courage and humility to follow Jesus, as he is: the way, the truth, and the life.

We all know the story of Peter's betrayal of the Lord the night before He died. Jesus predicts this at the Last Supper, but Peter protests at once: "Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you" (Mk 14:31). Within hours, Peter would stand by a fire and three times deny that he even knew the Lord. Luke says that after this third denial, "the Lord turned and looked at Peter. [And] Peter went out and wept bitterly." It was an instance of utter and abject failure. Peter never forgot it.

Peter's failure and his tears of repentance immediately thereafter are the background for our understanding of what Benedict calls Peter's third call, which comes after Jesus' resurrection. Peter and his companions have gone back to their old trade of fishing. Once again, they work hard all night and catch nothing. At dawn they see a man standing on shore. "Have you caught anything?" the man calls out. The question is one that expects the answer "no": "You haven't caught anything, have you?" Jesus was having fun with them. Not once in the Gospels is there any record of Peter and his friends catching a single fish without Jesus' help.

"Cast your net on the starboard side," Jesus calls out, "and you will find something." They do so, and instantly the net is so heavy with fish that they cannot haul it in. One of those in the boat tells Peter: "It is the Lord." It is the unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved," as he is called in John's Gospel. As the boat nears shore, towing the heavy net, Peter, impulsive as ever, jumps into the water to be the first to greet the Lord. Once ashore, he finds a charcoal fire with fish on it, and bread. Knowing that they would be hungry after their long night's labor, Jesus has made breakfast for them.

Did Peter recall the other charcoal fire that night in Jerusalem, where he stood warming himself? We cannot know. It is clear, however, that he was soon remembering what he had done at that other charcoal fire. Jesus' thrice-repeated question, "Do you love me?" reminds Peter all too vividly of how he had done exactly what Jesus had warned he would only hours before -- and what Peter had immediately boasted he would never do. Three times Peter had denied that he knew his Master, even as Jesus was on trial for His life in a nearby room.

"Peter was distressed," the Gospel says, because Jesus asked His question a third time. Of course he was distressed! The memory of that threefold denial was painful. Peter's thrice repeated assurance of love is his rehabilitation. In response to each pledge of love, Jesus assigns Peter responsibility: to feed Jesus' sheep. It is noteworthy, however, that the flock entrusted to Peter's care remains the Lord's: "my lambs . . . my sheep." Jesus Himself is "the chief shepherd," as we read in the First Letter of Peter (5:4).

We often think of Peter as weak before the resurrection, but afterward -- especially after the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost -- as strong. The reality is more complex. Peter retains to the end of his life something of his old weakness. Though remaining faithful to the Lord was sometimes easy for Peter, there were also times when it was difficult. That was true for Peter, and for every one of Peter's successors. That is why we pray for our church fathers at every Mass.

Which of us does not feel weak at times? We have made so many good resolutions -- some we have kept, many we have not. We have so many dreams, hopes, plans. We want so much, yet we settle for so little. If this is your story, then you have a friend in heaven: Simon Peter.

Jesus does not ask us to be strong. He does not ask us to be pioneers or leaders. He asks of us only what He asked of Peter: that we follow Him. That is not always easy. If we know our weakness, however, we have an advantage over those who think they are strong. Then we will trust, as we try to follow our Master and Lord, not in any strength of our own, but only and always in the strength of Jesus Christ.

About The Author:

Rev. John Jay Hughes is a priest of the Saint Louis archdiocese and the author, of the memoir 'No Ordinary Fool' and of 'Columns of Light: 30 Remarkable Saints', available both in print and as a recorded book from Now You Know Media.

Source: Inside Catholic

Following Jesus Once More

by the Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt

Gospel: John 21:1-19

I can't really imagine what it must have been for Peter and the other disciples as they gathered on the lake shore that night. There is certainly nothing in my own experience that parallels what they have been through: to watch Jesus crucified, to have participated in it by their own denial and quickness to flee, hoping that would somehow ensure their own safety. And then the shock of the resurrection, the wonder of having Jesus actually appear to them and now simply trying to get their own minds around this new, utterly unprecedented reality. No, there is nothing in my own life experience which compares, but I do believe I can understand their reaction now. I can understand their deep desire to return to the familiar --- Peter's yearning to simply do what he can do without thinking about it... pushing the boat out into the lake, lowering the nets and raising them again, hoping for a good catch. In fact, I'm thinking Peter can do this with his eyes closed and he probably is doing just that as he continues to work out in his mind and in his heart the unbelievable events of these last days.

I understand that, for we do the same it seems to me. In times of crisis, or loss, or fear, or uncertainty, we grasp for what we know for sure, returning to familiar routines until our mind and heart can catch up with one another. Until we find ourselves ready to step out in faith and hope again.

So I understand that, and although it does not compare, I think I can also understand something of their state of mind then. For I believe I found myself in such a place not that long ago.

This is how it was for me. I had entered into a new and different kind of work, believing it would use my gifts well and that it would give me the opportunity to deepen those gifts and to develop some new ones. I began it thinking I could be a part of making a difference. It didn't work out that way. Before long I found my most deeply held values at war with one another. I discovered that many more days than not I was being required to do work which did not begin to use the gifts I had been developing my whole life long. I was deeply unhappy and found myself covered with a shroud of uncertainty and fear. I did not know what to do next.

I had been in this place only a couple of months by then and had begun to share some of my struggle with some trusted friends. One of them told me then that another friend had told her to tell me, 'You tell Janet to start writing again.' This was offered with the best of intentions, I know. But even so, in my darkness, even that I was not able to receive well. In fact, I can remember my reaction was one of deep grief, for by then I was literally not certain I had anything to say.

I am still shocked at how little time it took to erode my confidence and my hope. At how quickly I seemed to lose my way. At how hard it was to find my way out of it. I truly didn't think I had anything left to say. It was much worse for the disciples, of course, but think of how quickly, they too, lost their way. How suddenly a world full of promise became one of despair and uncertainty...

And then on a morning commute a few days later in those dark mornings before Christmas I remembered a Christmas story I had told before. I went home and wrote it down. I called a friend with the idea for this blog and tentatively I began to write again. I was wobbly at first, but soon I found my stride, and whatever else has been true in the last eighteen months, this has also been true. In this sharing of the journey in this way, I am living more deeply into my own faith and discovering daily what it is to follow Jesus again.

So, yes, I do have a little sense of the utter fear or uncertainty or hopelessness that may have enshrouded those disciples on the beach so long ago. I know what it is to feel caught and to only know to return to what one knows the best. It is what the disciples appear to have been doing and it is what continues to happen after Jesus makes himself known over a charcoal fire and a meal of fish and bread. For pretty soon we hear Jesus pull Peter into a private conversation asking him over and over again the most basic of questions, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" What do you know for certain, Peter? What have you staked your life and hope on before? Only this conversation does not end with only a spoken affirmation of Peter's deepest held values. Rather, it offers concrete direction for Peter, and I would venture to day for all of us as well as Jesus puts the call into the simplest of terms: Feed those whom I love. Care for them. Give them what they need. And then Jesus ends it where he began with Peter three years before, with the simple invitation to "Follow me."

I have to say though that as far as my writing goes, I don't know if I was returning to what I know best or stepping out in faith trying to discern where Jesus was leading me next. I expect it was and is a muddled up combination of the two. Mostly though I know it's pretty basic and whether it is this or some other gift or avenue any one of us might be called to move deeper into, for people of faith it must always begin with the same question from Jesus, "Do you love me?" And our answer does always find its most basic meaning in the call to care for those whom Jesus loves, wherever it is we live our lives. And yes, I expect it does also mean stepping out in faith every single day, one step at a time sometimes, as we listen and watch for Jesus going before us, following him from darkness into light, from doubt to certainty, from despair to hope, from death to life...

Have you ever found yourself in the dark place of fear or uncertainty the disciples appear to be in at the start of today's story? What was that like? How were you led out of it? Or are you still there? If that is the case, how might this story offer direction or hope to you now?

The question and the command posed to Peter are meant for us as well. What does it mean to you to say that you love Jesus? How are you called upon to "feed Jesus' sheep" where you are today?

Source: Dancing with the Word

Back to the Future - A Meditation on John John 21

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

Gospel: John 21:1-19

The gospel today, is really quite remarkable. For, despite the fact that the apostles seeing Jesus risen from the dead several times now, we see in them a kind of retreat into the past. They're going backwards, and Jesus must summon them, if you pardon the expression, "Back to the Future."

Plainly stated, they were going back to fishing, but the Lord had called them away from fishing, and pointed them to the future, a future that included going to all the nations and summoning them to saving faith.

Thus, this is a critical gospel that shows us that Jesus summoning them back to their crucial call, a call that has its focus not in the past but in the future. Indeed, fellow believer, if this gospel had not gone right, your faith and mine might well have been in jeopardy. To make it plain, you and I are the future the Jesus sought to preserve in this crucial gospel. Our own coming to the faith depends on whether Jesus is able to summon Peter and the other apostles back to the future.

Let's look at this gospel in four stages.

I. Regrettable Reversal - the text says, At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Now let us be clear, Peter had no business going back to fishing. The Lord had called him away from fishing. For example, Back in Matthew's Gospel, we read, And he said to them, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. (Mat 4:19)

But here, we see Peter going back to commercial fishing. And lets be clear, this is not some sort of recreational fishing, their commercial nets are out! It is astonishing to think that after having seen Jesus risen from the dead on at least two occasions, possibly more, that they're going back to fishing!

We often think that if we were to see miracles, our faith would be strong. But, there is very little evidence for this. Many who see signs and wonders, wonder if what they have seen can be topped. Their fascination is engaged, but not their faith. Ultimately, faith produces miracles, it is not the result of it.

Peter's return to fishing, is not only regrettable, it is scandalous. For in so doing, others say to him, "We will also go with you." Too often, when we backslide, we bring others with us. More positively, if we grow in holiness, we will also bring others with us. Sadly, Peter is backslidden, and others follow him. As we shall see, the Lord will not abandon his church.

And while we may wonder at St. Peter. The fact is, we too easily backslide. We praise Jesus with our mouth, and yet from the same mouth come curses and gossip. We claim that we belong to Christ, are one body with him, are a Temple of the Holy Spirit, and yet, too often, from the same body comes forth fornication and other sexual impurity. We say that God is love, and yet from us to easily come anger and hatred and a lack of love for the poor and the troubled.

The things we have been called away from, we too easily run back to. The Lord points forward, but we run backward.

So often, as with the disciples in this gospel, the Lord must stand on the shore of our baptismal waters, and call us out of the past, and back into the future, a future of holiness and perfection. Too easily we run from this. But the Lord is faithful, and as we shall see, stands on the shore and calls us back. Would that we could say, in the words of an old Gospel song: Goodbye world, I stay no longer with you, goodbye pleasures of sin, I stayed along with you! I've made up my mind to go God's way the rest of my life! Another old gospel song from the 1940s says, No more, no more! I'll never turn back no more! I'm going to keep on crossing till I reach the other shore. Rains may come, floods may roar, storms may race, and winds may blow, but I'll never turn back, no more!

Would that this were the case,. But as it is, and as we shall see, the Lord keeps calling calling from the shore, out onto the waves of our discontent.

II. Redeeming reminder - the text says, When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.

The Lord stands on the shore and rehearses for them what he had done for them some three years earlier, when he called them from fishing to evangelizing. He does not excoriate them, call them fools or some other epitaph. He calls out to them, "Children…have you caught anything?!" And rather than rebuke them, he asked them to assess the data, whether the course of action they have chosen has yielded anything at all. They admit that they've caught nothing.

And yet, strangely, this whole incident seems familiar! For the Lord tells him to cast the net elsewhere and that they would find something. And suddenly the nets are full! Oh how this spoke to their hearts! It was just when it happened three years ago! Scripture says,

And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:4ff)

St. John draws the obvious conclusion, "It is the Lord!" The Lord has given them a redeeming reminder. He does not rebuke them, he has only reminded them. In effect, he says "Come out of the past! Remember the future to which I have summoned you, a future of going forth to the nations in announcing the Gospel for all to hear. Your life is not about fish, is about humanity!"

What reminders has the Lord put you in your life? How has he stood on the shore and called to you with some reminder? Perhaps it was a tattered old Bible, or perhaps an old hymn that you heard. Perhaps it was grandmother's old rosary beads stored away in a dresser drawer. Perhaps you are summoned to a funeral or wedding.

Somehow, in moments like these, the Lord stands on the shore of life and calls to you. He reminds you of your call, and wonders whether your present course is done anything for you whatsoever. Usually, it has not. Perhaps there is fleeting wealth or momentary popularity, but otherwise little else to show for it.

And thus, the Lord calls. He calls us back to the future, a future and a present oriented toward heaven. Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, seek the things that are above, rather than the earth below (Colossians 3:1).

Yes, Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me. See on the portals he's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me; Come home, come home! Ye who are weary come home! Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling oh sinner come home!

Here then, is a redeeming reminder Jesus calling, softly and tenderly: come out of the past, come away from commercial fishing, look to future, the future of saving souls!

III. Reorienting Repast - the text says, When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Now in this somewhat lengthy passage, notice three basic elements whereby the Lord uses a meal, or a repast, to reorient them. To "reorient," literally, means to turn someone back to the East, back toward the rising of the sun (Son), back toward the light and away from the dark. Re (again) + oriens (East) = back to the East, back to the light.

Note first, the FISH are in is are plentiful numbers. But the number, 153, has significance more for humanity, then for fish. While much ink has been spilled on the significance of this number, the most likely explanation seems to be that this was the number of known nations at the time. And hence, that 153 fish are caught exactly, seems to be the Lord's way of saying, "Not fish, but humanity, all the nations!" Hence we see that God can even use our sins, our backsliding, and turn it to something he is called us away from, yes he can use our sins to be a teachable moment.

Notice next, the FIRE. As Peter comes onshore, we note that he sees a fire. And though the text is silent, it must've unnerved him! For here was a charcoal fire, the same sort of fire in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest wherein Peter had denied the Lord (Jn 18:18). Hurt, and unnerved by what he had done, or rather, failed to do, Peter felt unworthy, and was still deeply troubled by the sin he committed in denying the Lord. Yes, this fire reminded him.

And yet, even his repentance is somewhat egocentric. It would seem, he wonders, "How could I have done this, I who promise the Lord to be with him even if all should rage against him!" And yet, in moment of cowardice, Peter denied the Lord. Oh yes, this fire, this charcoal fire, is bothersome indeed! The Lord stands next to it it looks to Peter much as he had done in the courtyard of Caiaphas when, after Peter denied him for the third time, the text says that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Lk 22:61). How this fire bothered him!

And the FRANKNESS - But now ensues a tender, poignant, and powerful conversation. To us to read only English, the conversation focuses on the fact that three times, the Lord asked Peter, "Do you love me?" But in Greek, there are subtleties that we easily miss.

For the Lord does not ask Peter simply, "Do you love me?" And Peter answers, "Yes Lord, I love you." No, the Greek text is more subtle and more specific. In Greek, the Lord asked Peter, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με πλέον τούτων (Simon Joannou agapas me pleon touton? - Simon Son of John, do you Love (agapas) me more than these? ). Note therefore the request for agape love. But Peter replies, in the Greek text, κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. (Kyrie, su oidas oti philo se - Lord, you know that I have brotherly (philo) love for you.

And thus we see, that the Lord asked for a agape love, a love that is the highest love, wherein we love God above all things, and above all people, including ourselves. But Peter does not answer, with agape love, but rather says, that he loves the Lord in a brotherly (phileo) sort of a way. And this is far short of what the Lord asked. (I realize there are debates about the Greek here, but am convinced that the two different verb forms are significant. More on the debate here: Agape vs Philo in John 21).

But despite this, the Lord has still has something important for St. Peter to do so. He says to him, despite his imperfect love, "Feed my lambs!"

A second time, the same dialogue sets up wherein the Lord asked Peter, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με (Simon son of John, do you love (agapas) me? Peter responds, κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε (Lord you know that I have affectionate (philo = bortherly) love for you." But here too, the Lord had asked for unconditional, an ultimate love, but Peter can only return a lesser love, a brotherly love, a sort of affection. Yet again, the Lord does not reject Peter. He accepts what Peter has, and says to him still "Tend my sheep."

Yet in the third occasion, Jesus, accepting what Peter is able to offer ask him the third time, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, φιλεῖς με; (Simon, son of John, do you have affection (phileis) for me? The third question, which strikes Peter to the heart, causes him to exclaim that he (only) has brotherly love. Yet again the Lord does not reject him, but rather assigns him, saying once again, feed my lambs."

Here, is perhaps one of the most poignant, beautiful, and honest moments in Scripture. The Lord looking with love to a disciple, asking them for the highest love, and that disciple honestly answering, "I have only imperfect love to offer you." For the first time in his life, perhaps, Peter is being absolutely honest. No more posing here, no more bragging. Only an honest answer, born in sober appreciation of his human lapses. There is nothing more beautiful than honest prayer. For honesty is a prelude to healing. Jesus accepts what Peter can offer, and as we shall see, promises him his heart will expand so that, one day, Peter will love the Lord totally, unconditionally, above all things, and above all people.

How about you? Are you hones with the Lord? Have you experienced his love in spite of your sin? Do you know he can use you even in your weakness if you are will to be hones with him?

IV - Required Remedy - the text says Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

In this whole conversation, the Lord's purpose is not to stalk Peter, or to badger him. Rather it is to lead him toward a necessary remedy, and point him back toward the future, a future filled with evangelical fervor, and sacrificial love. He is week now, but the Lord will give him strength and, within ten days after his Ascension, the Holy Spirit will come and Peter will be quickened, strengthened in the faith.

But even here, the work the Lord needs to do is not finished, for the Lord speaks of the day, when Peter will finally have the grace to accept martyrdom. It will be a day, when someone will tie him fast and lead him off to where he would rather not go. But he will go! And he will die for Christ.

Finally Peter will be able to say, without any simulation or exaggeration, I love you Lord totally, with agape love, I love you above all things, above all people, and above my own very life.

For now, he is not ready, but the Lord will lead him by stages, and get him ready. Peter will one day be able to say I love you with agape, with total, with unconditional love, above all things, above all people, above my very self!

How will Peter get there? How will we get there? The Lord says simply, "Follow me."

So, fellow disciple, the Lord leads you to deeper love, to unconditional love, to love above all other loves! Only the Lord can do this. He did it for Peter, a hard case actually, and he can do it for you!

For now, He is standing on the shore and calling us to a richer future.

Source: Archdiocese of Washington Blog

Stretched Out

by Andrew Prior

Gospel: John 21

John's gospel has an add-on. If we were to cut off what we know as Chapter 21 and give the book to someone unfamiliar with the gospel, they would notice nothing missing. The story makes sense and ends well at Chapter 20:31. Someone had another go; maybe John, maybe a follower of John.

I think a follower wrote the second ending; I suppose that the world could not contain the books.... It's too chatty for John. It sounds like something I would write. John would have felt free to take the end of chapter 20 and put it at the end of Chapter 21 where it belongs.

Some of the postlude; I'll call it that, is to address rumors that "the disciple whom Jesus loved" would not die before the Lord returned. Jesus did not say this. (21:20-24)

Whoever the author, the flavor of John is all through the postlude. Seven disciples, the same as the perfect number of signs, (20:31) are carefully listed so that the story emphasizes the God imbued nature of all these happenings. There are three questions asked of Peter, one for each of the denials, and at that time they are again standing around a charcoal fire. (18:18) And now, with this beach event, there are three appearances to the disciples, matching up another of John's favorite numbers. (Does this mean the appearance to Mary is now downgraded?) In verse 7 Peter hears it is the Lord, and immediately swims to him. Trusting- pistos- in John is not about touching or seeing, but in responding when we hear of the resurrection.

Despite its careful splicing into the themes of John, I think this appearance of Jesus was an independent story. They've already met him in Chapter 20, but are afraid to ask who he is in Chapter 21!? Chapter 21 is its own story.

---

Peter is full of grief after Jesus' death. What can you do at a time like this? Blokes know there is no point sitting around miserable; do something!

"I'm going fishing."
"Yep. What's the point of sitting around? We'll come with you."

Seven fishermen is the perfect number of disciples, but because Jesus is not with them, it is night. They catch nothing. It's only in the dawn of a new day, Easter Day, in fact, if this is its own story, that you can catch these fish. That's because Jesus has risen with the sun. And now the net is so full it can't be dragged into the boat.

They are again by the sea of Tiberius. (cf John 6) And again, there is bread and fish. The seven disciples, the perfect number, will be the ones who administer the holy feast from now on. Five loaves and two fish: Andrew had said, "What are they among so many?" Now there are more fish than can be managed; it is the time of the heavenly feast. The sign is being repeated.

Is John reflecting on the Lukan story of the failed night of fishing? (Luke 5:1-11) In Luke the nets begin to tear. They needed help from another boat. In John, Peter is enough, and nothing is torn. (No one seems to know why there were exactly 153 fish. It is not like John to use a number without some symbolic purpose, but there is no scholarly consensus about its meaning.)

Peter is sent from the fire to get fish. He pulls the net ashore himself; the primacy of Peter in the early church is shown here, and the net is not broken.

Peter is everywhere in this story, despite the other names listed. Thomas and Nathaniel play the role of the flawed yet faithful disciples in John; Nathaniel features in 1:43-51; Thomas is the a-pistos one who, despite this, ends up making the crowning confession of the Gospel. The sons of Zebedee are strangely absent in John, barely named.

It's Peter who hears it is the Lord, and responds, throwing himself into the sea. Jesus' words to Thomas in 20:27 use the same word; bale, in his command to 'throw' his hand into the wound in his side. The disciple whom Jesus loved knows it is Jesus, (just as it is he who gets to the tomb first) but it is Peter who jumps in.

And it was Peter who denied him round that charcoal fire in the dark night of the arrest. Three times he denied him, and three times now, by another charcoal fire, Jesus asks "Do you love me?" It is formal and searching: "Simon, Son of John...." And it is an anointing: "Feed my sheep."

Peter is stripped naked again. He was naked on the boat; "stripped for work," I remember one translation saying. It is wrong, I think. He is naked. Like Adam, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Peter tries to cover his shame before coming before the Lord, but Jesus strips him naked again, dragging him back to that fire. But now it is in the light. His deeds are exposed. (3:20)

I always imagined them taking a quiet walk down the beach. But it's there at the fire, in front of everyone.

Three times he asks him. Three times he anoints him; feed my sheep, and three times he crucifies him, or so it feels to Peter. Three brutal reminders of his failure in front of everyone round the fire, just as Peter denied him in front of everyone.

And Peter still fails!

"Do you love me more than these - the way God loves" He uses the word agapas.
"Lord, you know I love you like a brother!" Peter uses the word philo for love.
Jesus tries again. "Simon, Son of John, do you love me with the greatest love of all?" agapas
"Yes Lord, you know I love you like a brother!" philo
And Jesus says, So you love me like a brother?" phileis
And Peter is hurt. "Blazes! I bawled my eyes out when I denied you and realised what I'd done! You know I love you like a brother! You know everything." philo... and a subtle reminder of who Jesus is

And the disciple whom Jesus loved rolls his eyes and says, "Whoosh!" as it all goes over Peter's head.

But Jesus still says to Peter, "Feed my sheep." We are allowed to be imperfect.

And then Peter learns the difference between philo and agapas. "When you were young, you did your own thing. Now you follow me. And they will kill you for it." This will need much more than the fondness we have for our brother. We might even give him a kidney, but die for him? That is something else.

"Why me?" wonders Peter. "I've given everything. I've always been the one at the front." And he sees that other disciple there. The one who always has the good connections. The one who knew the High Priest. (18:15) Always in the right circles that one. Now known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. And Peter says, "What about him?"

Still hurting. He's feeling like the minister who's always been in the remote country parishes; always gets the hack jobs; always relegated to being an also-ran. This other disciple always knows the right people, always has a plumb city parish. "What about him?"

"What about him?" says Jesus. "Just follow me." Same old same old.

---

His hands are tied already! To whom else can he go? Jesus has the words of eternal life. (John 6:67-69) And really, he wants nothing else; this is life.

But sometimes... sometimes Peter wishes he could just be a fisherman. When he is so tired that it hurts; when he gives everything, and it's still not enough, and he imagines the disciple whom Jesus loved looking down on him with that knowing, superior smile. When it feels like his hands have been stretched out and life has him hanging already.

But he will remember, too, the days when the nets are full, and nothing tears, or aches. You feel like you can haul in the whole world. The water is warm, and you know life in all its fullness. (John 10:10) Sunny afternoons when the world never ends.

So he stretches out his arms again and follows on. Where else would he go?

© Copyright Andrew Prior

Commentary of the Day

by Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604)

"When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore" - John 21:4

What does the sea indicate but the present age, which is disturbed by the uproar of circumstances and the commotion of this perishable life? What does the solidity of the shore signify but the uninterrupted continuance of eternal peace? Therefore since the disciples were still held in the waves of this mortal life, they were laboring on the sea. But since our Redeemer had already passed beyond his perishable body, after his resurrection he stood on the shore as if he were speaking to his disciples by his actions of the mystery of his resurrection: "I am not appearing to you on the sea, because I am not with you in the waves of confusion" (Mt 14,25)

It is for this reason that he said in another place to these same disciples after his resurrection: "These are the words I spoke to you when I was still with you" (Lk 24,44). It was not that he wasn't with them when he appeared to them as a bodily presence; but... he in his immortal body was apart from their mortal bodies. He was saying that he was no longer with them even as he stood in their midst. In the passage we read today he also disclosed, by the place in which he was standing when he showed himself on shore while they were still at sea, what he professed when he was with them.

Source: Homilies on the Gospel, no.24 (©Cistercian publications Inc., 1990)

Peter

by Frederick Buechner

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
John 21:9-17

Everybody knows he started out as a fisherman. He lived with his wife in Capernaum, where they shared a house with his mother-in-law and his brother Andrew. He and Andrew had their own boat and were in business with a couple of partners named James and John, Zebedee's sons. The first time Jesus laid eyes on him, he took one good look and said, "So you're Simon, the son of John" (John 1:42), and then said that from then on he'd call him Cephas, which is Aramaic for Peter, which is Greek for rock.

A rock isn't the prettiest thing in creation or the fanciest or the smartest, and if it gets rolling in the wrong direction, watch out, but there's no nonsense about a rock, and once it settles down, it's pretty much there to stay. There's not a lot you can do to change a rock or crack it or get under its skin, and, barring earthquakes, you can depend on it about as much as you can depend on anything. So Jesus called him the Rock, and it stuck with him the rest of his life. Peter the Rock. He could stop fishing for fish, Jesus told him. He'd been promoted. From there on out people were to be his business. Now he could start fishing for them.

There was a lot of talk going around about who Jesus was and who he wasn't, and Jesus himself seemed just as glad to steer clear of the subject. Then one day he brought it up himself, and the disciples batted it around for a while. There were some people who said he was John the Baptist come back from the grave, they told him, or maybe Elijah, or Jeremiah, or some other prophet who thought he'd see what he could do a second time around. There were all kinds of half-baked theories, they said. Then Jesus put it to them straight: "Who do YOU say that I am?" Nobody wanted to stick his neck out, and the silence was deafening till Peter broke it or till it washed up against the rock that Peter was and broke itself. "You're the Christ," he said, "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16: 15 -16).

It took a lot of guts to say, and Jesus knew it did. If it was true, it was enough to blow the lid off everything. If it wasn't true, you could get yourself stoned to death as a blasphemer for just thinking it. But Peter said it anyway, and Jesus made up for him the only beatitude he ever made up for a single individual and said, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona," which means Simon, son of John, and seems to have been what he always called him when he really meant business. Then he went back to Peter the Rock again and told him that he was the rock he wanted to build his church on and that as soon as he got to Heaven, he was to be the one to decide who else got in. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom," Jesus said (Matthew 16:17-19). It was another promotion.

But if Peter was the only one Jesus ever gave a beatitude of his own to, he was also the only one he ever gave Hell to, at least in quite such a direct way. It happened not long afterwards. Jesus was saying that to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, wasn't going to be a bed of roses all the way, and the time wasn't far off when he'd suffer the tortures of the damned in Jerusalem and be killed. Peter couldn't take it. "God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen," he said, and that's when Jesus lit into him. "Get behind me, Satan," he said because the rock that Peter was at that point was blocking the grim road that Jesus knew he had to take whether he or Peter or anybody else wanted it that way or not because God wanted it that way, and that was that. "You're not on God's side but men's," he said. "You're a rock I've cracked my shins on (Matthew 16:21-23).

It wasn't the last time Peter said the wrong thing either, or asked the wrong question, or got the wrong point, or at least failed to do the thing that was right. The day he saw Jesus walking on the water and tried to walk out to him himself, for instance, he was just about to go under for the third time because rocks have never been much good at floating when Jesus came to the rescue (Matthew 14:28-31). Once when Jesus was talking about forgiveness, Peter asked how many times you were supposed to forgive anyone person--seven times maybe?--and Jesus turned on him and said that after you'd forgiven him seventy time seven you were just starting to get warmed up (Matthew 18:21-22). Another time Jesus was talking about Heaven, and Peter wanted to know what sort of special deal people like himself got, people who'd left home and given everything up the way he'd given everything up to follow Jesus; and Jesus took it easy on him that time because a rock can't help being a little thick sometimes and said he'd get plenty, and so would everybody else (Matthew 19:27-30).

And then there were the things he did or failed to do, those final, miserable days just before the end. At their last supper, when Jesus started to wash the disciples' feet, it was Peter who protested-"You wash my feet!"-and when Jesus explained that it showed how they were all part of each other and servants together, Peter said, "Lord, not my feet only but my hands and my head!" and would probably have stripped down to the altogether if Jesus hadn't stopped him in time (John 13:5-11). At that same sad meal, Jesus said he would have to be going soon, and because Peter didn't get what he meant or couldn't face it, he asked about it, and Jesus explained what he meant was that he was going where nobody on earth could follow him. Peter finally got the point then and asked why he couldn't follow. "I'll lay down my life for you," he said, and then Jesus said to him the hardest thing Peter had ever heard him say. "Listen, listen," he said, "the cock won't crow till you've betrayed me three times" (John 13:36-38), and that's the way it was, of course--Peter sitting out there in the high priest's courtyard keeping warm by the fire while, inside, the ghastly interrogation was in process, and then the girl coming up to ask him three times if he wasn't one of them and his replying each time that he didn't know what in God's name she was talking about. And then the old cock's wattles trembling scarlet as up over the horizon it squawked the rising sun, and the tears running down Peter's face like rain down a rock (Matthew 26:69-75).

According to Paul, the first person Jesus came back to see after Easter morning was Peter. What he said and what Peter said nobody will ever know, and maybe that's just as well. Their last conversation on this earth, however, is reported in the Gospel of John.

It was on the beach, at daybreak. Some of the other disciples were there (see NATHANIEL), and Jesus cooked them breakfast. When it was over, he said to Peter (only again he called him Simon, son of John, because if ever he meant business, this was it), "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" and Peter said he did. Then Jesus asked the same question a second time and then once again, and each time Peter said he loved him-three times in all, to make up for the other three times.

Then Jesus said, "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep," and you get the feeling that this time Peter didn't miss the point (John 21:9-19). From fisher of fish to fisher of people to keeper of the keys to shepherd. It was the Rock's final promotion, and from that day forward he never let the head office down again.

Source: Frederick Buechner Blog; Copyright © Frederick Buechner Center

Health Tip: Lying to Your Doctor Has Unintended Consequences

by Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., A.B.P.N., D.F.A.P.A.

I am a bit naïve. Yes, I am a psychiatrist, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, and the founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry. Given my experience, I should, you would think, know better. Yet I was in practice for probably 20 or more years before I realized that some times my patients lie to me about how they are doing, and whether they are following our jointly agreed upon recommendations. I am prompted to write about this, because a week ago I had an experience where a patient told me that she was lying to her other doctor.

Now, using the word 'lying' seems a bit strong, but I use it to get the point across. In fact, it is more like hiding the truth, not wanting to disappoint the doctor, avoiding shame, judgment, criticism, or the doctor's expected anger. Any reason that might inspire a child or adolescent to lie to their parent can probably be operative here because, understandably, being a patient is a vulnerable state for many.

My patient's name is Joan. Joan is a 58-year old married accountant who has, for the past 15 months, been having odd symptoms - feeling like the walls are closing in on her, feeling unsteady on her feet all the time, as if she just got off a boat, seeing faces "melting". A thorough medical and psychiatric work has revealed some underlying hormonal, nutritional, and immunological dysfunctions, which are contributing to the symptoms. As part of the medical work-up I referred her to a neurologist (Dr. Blandt), who prescribed a medication for Joan. When I next met with Joan, I asked her if the medication worked and discovered her lie. Our conversation went like this:

"Joan, what did Dr. Blandt say when you saw her last week?"

" Well not that much, she had given me the Scopolamine, but I didn't like it."

"Did you tell her that?"

"Yes."

"What did Dr. Blandt say?"

"She said I should try different drug."

"How long did you take the Scopolamine for?"

"Not very long, I took it once or twice."

"Did you tell Dr. Blandt that?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I didn't want her to be upset with me. I don't want more drugs."

"Joan, you have a right to not take a medicine, but you need to tell Dr. Blandt the whole truth and your concerns. Dr. Blandt may well conclude that the Scopolamine didn't help you, and so it's not helpful for the type of symptoms you have and other patients like you have. She will be less likely to prescribe it for other patients, based on the experience she believes you had. Dr. Blandt's ability to help people is somewhat diminished by such erroneous information. When this happens enough a doctor's ability to help their patients is compromised. You need to be more direct."

I explained to Joan how her inaccurate reporting to Dr. Blandt could easily effect her ability to get relief through proper diagnosis and treatment of her problem. A patient's reaction to medication tells the physician something about the patient's biology and clarifies the diagnosis.

Inaccurate reporting leads to inaccurate treatment not just for you, but for others with similar conditions or symptoms. If you fear telling your doctor the whole truth when you are face to face, consider writing her a note before you see her telling the doctor ALL the facts of your situation – whatever they are. You can certainly tell the doctor in the note that you have some fear or concern about telling him the whole truth. An understanding physician will appreciate your concerns and your honesty.

Source: Health Matters Blog, The National Center for Whole Psychiatry

Recipe: Garlic Chicken

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Ingredients

2 lbs (1 kg) Boneless Chicken
15 Garlic Cloves Finely Chopped
2-3 Green Chilies
2 tbsp Oil
1 cup Sliced Onion
1 tsp Ginger Grated
¼ cup Yogurt
¼ cup Coriander Leaves Finely Chopped
Salt to taste

Directions

1. Grind onion, coriander leaves, yogurt, salt and green chilies in mixer to form the paste

2. Marinate the chicken in prepared paste and keep it aside

3. Heat the oil in non stick pan then add cumin seeds, ginger and garlic to it. Sauté till it turns golden

4. Add marinated chicken to pan and mix well. Cook it on low medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot

Yield: 3 - 4 servings

Family Special: Your Dead Will Live - What Resurrection Teaches Us

by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

"Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy" (Isaiah 26:19).

In Luke's account of Christ's resurrection, (the angel) proclaim to the women: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:5-6). This joyous news must have taken them off guard. After all, they came to Jesus' tomb bearing burial spices with which to anoint the lifeless body of their Lord. Instead, they find dazzling angels standing watch next to an empty tomb, and hear news that they will never find Christ in a place of death and darkness.

At Easter, have you considered which aspects of your life God wants to breathe life into?

Family

Many of us have strained familial relationships that seem only to worsen when we get together for meals and services around the holidays. Do you pray for the members of your family regularly? Are you willing to open up your heart to start loving them the way God loves each and every one of them? Remember,

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things"
(1 Corinthians 13:7).

Friendships

If Christ's work on the cross teaches us anything about friendships, it's that forgiveness and grace trumps all. After all, mere hours before his gruesome death, Jesus was ignored, abandoned, denied, and betrayed by his closest friends. He could have equally been speaking of Peter, a man in his inner circle, when he begged on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Yet, even after being left alone and misunderstood, Christ still made the ultimate act of love for his friends (and the world).

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves"
(Romans 12:10).

Work

Often our "good" side is saved for our friends and loved ones, while our places of work get the short (or grumpy) end of the stick. As you ponder the work Christ did on the cross, and the glory of his resurrection, remember that our work can be a beautiful echo of his perfect work, holy and pleasing to God.

"For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
(1 Timothy 4:10-12)

Intersecting Faith and Life:

What area of your life needs to come alive in honor of Easter? How can you seek Christ daily in your relationships and duties?

Further Reading

Book of Titus

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Register/news_regn.asp

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2014 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.