Wherever We Are

Fr. Tom’s Homily May 4, 2019

“That rather long Gospel today has so many different messages and symbols within it that remind of us the presence of the risen Lord.  You know, Peter and the disciples were back up in Galilee and they had already experienced the risen Lord, but they didn’t know what it meant and so they went back to what they did know and that was their old job and Peter says, ‘I’m gonna go out and fish.’  And the other Apostles say, ‘Ok well we’ll come fishing with you.’ Of course Simon Peter being the expert fisherman that he is, he catches nothing all night long and then Jesus is there on the shore and he says, ‘Oh put the net on the other side.’ And then they draw in this huge draft of fish and they have to drag it in to shore and when they open it up they have 153 fish.  Now that’s interesting that they put the number there 153. Now you can be sure that the Apostles did not sit there and say 1-2-3-4-5. That was not it. 153 was the number of species of fish that at that time they believed existed in the world and so that 153 fish means that all people would be gathered together into the net of the Kingdom of God that that’s truly what it is about is that great diversity of people being brought into the Kingdom of God and of living in that relationship.  And then Jesus invites them, he already has fish on the coals, but he invites them to bring some of their own and remember the word for fish in Greek also stood for Jesus. Among the early Christians the symbol of the fish was symbolic of Christ and the reason for that in Greek its ichthus and ichthus would be Jesus Christ, Song of God, Savior if you take the first letter of each of those words that spells ichthus and so the fish itself already there is a symbol of Christ and the bread is there reminding us of the Eucharist that its through the Eucharist that Christ reveals himself to the Apostles there and it’s also through the Eucharist that Christ reveals himself to us and then we have that whole story of Peter going back and forth and to be honest with you, the English doesn’t do it justice because in Greek there’s three words for love.  There’s eros or passionate love. There is philos or friendship, brotherly love or there is agape which is self-sacrificing, truly serving love. Now Jesus asked Peter, ‘Do you agape me? Do you love me with a self-giving love? And Peter’s response is, ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you philos, as a friend.’ I love you as a friend and Jesus asked him again, ‘Do you love me with the love of agape, of truly self-sacrificing love?’ And Peter said, ‘You know Lord, I love you philos, as a friend.’ And then the third time, Jesus says, ‘Ok Peter I will take you where you’re at.’ And so he says to Peter, ‘Do you philos me?’ And Peter says, ‘Yes, I love you as a friend.’ Peter was being very honest there and Jesus accepted Peter where he was at, but then he also goes on and says, ‘Ultimately you will love me with agape love.’ And after the power of the Holy Spirit had come upon Peter he was transformed.  He was made truly a new person through that gift of the Holy Spirit and he loved the Lord with agape love, stood up in front of the Sanhedrin today in the first reading, stood up before the Romans in Rome, gave his life for Christ. He truly learned agape love, but Jesus led him along slowly through that infusion of the Holy Spirit and so we too are challenged. We’ve already been gifted by the Spirit, but Jesus does ask us, ‘Do you love me? Do you love me?’ Do I love Jesus just as a friend as somebody that I just kinda like or do I love Jesus agape, self-sacrificing, self-giving? And Jesus takes us wherever we are at, but he just invites us as the final words of the Gospel say today, ‘Follow me.’  If we follow Jesus we will truly discover the fullness of his risen life, the fullness of eternal love.”