Reading I: Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
Reading II: Revelation 5: 11-14
Gospel: John 21: 1-19
“I am going fishing.” I feel deeply for Peter at this moment. If I found my life irrevocably changed by God’s call only to have it just as irrevocably changed by watching my Messiah die, I would also turn toward what I know. I would fall toward what feels safe and comfortable in the wake of tragedy and trauma. I am not much of one for fishing, but I would likely find myself in the kitchen, cooking more food than I would know what to do with. What else are you supposed to do when you’ve lost the thing or the person that has made your life worthwhile?
How do we even know and recognize what is worthy of diving in head first to begin with? What is it in our life that is worth one more toss of the net, tired and traumatized as we may be? Jesus, as always, offers us the example. He shows us the worth of sharing a meal with those we love. He shows us the worth of sharing a meal with those who are so often unloved, unnoticed or undervalued. He calls out to Peter, inviting him to take a risk and try one more time. He asks simple but difficult questions and invites us to have the courage to face and answer those same questions. He asks us to feed and tend those – ourselves included – whom God calls.
Acts and Revelations make it clear that what God deems as worthwhile in our lives doesn’t result in praise so much as it results in dishonor and being slain. Praises that come from the angels do not match the feedback from the Sanhedrin. Sitting in our boat and doing what is comfortable keeps us safe with the Sanhedrin. We see Peter fall back into what he knows and what feels safe, but he comes up empty handed. He does not find what he is looking for.
It isn’t an unblemished hero but the slain Lamb that invites Peter to try again. It is Jesus, dishonored, crucified and resurrected, for whom he dives in headfirst. Encountering the risen Jesus offers us all the hope to try just one more time and to come to the shore and learn from our Lord. Feeding, tending and loving the least among and including us is not glamorous and will not leave us unscarred. We can always go back to what we know, what is safe and to what might seem more worthy. That way lies a path around dishonor and a trial before our community. It also will leave us with empty nets. Responding to God’s invitation fills us with more than we can imagine and more than we know what to do with. In jumping out of our boats, we can find ourselves back at Jesus’ side with plenty to feed his lambs.