Easter 3 Sunday C

From Fr. Jude Botelho:

In today's first reading from the Acts on the one hand we have the temple authorities trying to cover up the evidence of the resurrection by forbidding the apostles from preaching in the name of Jesus, and on the other, the bold stand taken by the apostles to give witness to the risen Lord, unmindful of the consequences. They even openly confront the authorities and accuse them of putting to death the innocent one, Jesus Christ. By their fearless words and bold deeds they witness to the fact that Jesus is alive in them through his spirit.

The Sun has risen …
The editor of one of the leading religious newspapers was walking along some cliffs near Eastbourne, England, one Easter morning. In his walk he met an old fisherman, and during their conversation together, the editor was struck by the simple faith of the old fisherman in his risen Saviour. "How do you know that Jesus has risen?" he asked. "Sir," came the reply, "do you see those cottages near the cliffs? Well, sir, sometimes when I am far out at sea I know that the sun has risen by the light that reflected by yon cottage windows. How do I know that Christ has risen? Why, sir, do I not see his light reflected from the faces of some of my fellows every day, and do I not feel the light of his glory in my own life? As soon tell me that the sun has not risen when I see his reflected glory, as tell me that my Lord is not risen."
- Anthony Castle in ''More Quotes and Anecdotes'
In the second reading from the apocalypse, we are invited to gaze upon the Risen Lord and give glory and praise unto him. John sees in a vision the heavenly hosts worshipping the Lamb in adoration and he invites all of creation to join in the song of praise. To be a believer is to be a constant witness of the risen Lord, acclaiming all that He has done for us. Praise is the perfect form of worship and prayer. After the resurrection Jesus appeared several times to his apostles and disciples to confirm them in their faith. He appeared to them individually and collectively. He appeared to them when they were in the house, as well as when they were on the road. He joined them in their journeys as well as in their work. Yet they did not seem to believe that He had risen. He was patient with their disbelief and gave them time and again proof that He was alive and that he would be with them. Why did they doubt? In today's episode we hear that they were ready to forget all the wonderful things that had happened, all the appearances of the Risen Lord, and they were ready to get back to their old routine, their regular jobs- fishing. Why have they given up? What was lacking in their following of Jesus Christ? Even in their regular jobs they experience failure –they catch nothing! It is then that Jesus once again comes to their rescue and calls them to join him at breakfast. He nourishes them with what he can provide and asks them to share what they themselves have. After breakfast he asks Peter the all important question: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He asks the question three times in order to give Simon the opportunity to affirm his love three times, to perhaps wipe away his earlier triple denial.
"In some way the apostles' love for Jesus must have been shaky, and immature. It was not sufficient, even after all his healings and miracles and resurrection to inspire them to plunge into the risky task of proclaiming redemption to the world. Perhaps this is what we learn from the gospel this Sunday. Without love, the Spirit does not come. Before all gifts, before all miracles, before all signs and wonders, comes love. Without it, as Paul observed, we are nothing at all. After the assurance of their love for him by Peter, Jesus can conclude the gospel story this Sunday with a phrase that he had used before but now can say with far more certain meaning: "Come follow me." This time they followed him to death because they understood the meaning of love."
– Eugene Lauer
"Like the apostles who went back to their fishing nets after the tragic episode of the passion, we too are sometimes tempted to lose hope. Our temptation maybe to get back to our everyday bread-and-butter tasks, so reliable and reassuring in their ordinariness; or to set up a religious ghetto of our own, cut off from those who might threaten our convictions, to dream of times gone by when faith was taken for granted and the Church ruled supreme. No, this is not the way to be. Someone is there standing on the shore, someone who is more impelling and more personal than ever, and he is calling me and asking me to put out my net. I am not always able to recognize him straight off but it's him all right: there at the centre of human and professional contacts, our life of faith however limp or unsatisfactory, present in the undertakings of all who search for truth, who love and forgive, and who struggle for a better and more equitable world. He is there above all in this meal which we share in memory of him and which prepares us for our necessary return to the world of everyday. So have we the daring to jump into the water? "
– Glenstal Bible Missal
Love Breakthrough
There is a marvelous New Yorker cartoon which depicts a moment of challenge in the life of one man. He is well on in his middle years, his hair is in retreat, and thick round spectacles sit on his nose. Dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown he stands inside his door staring at something on the floor. The door is heavily reinforced with steel brackets and a variety of bolts and locks and chains. It is a picture of security gone mad. There is no letter box to receive mail, but there is a peeping hole to see out. Clearly no one could penetrate this place without approval. But something has got through this array of defenses. A white envelope with a large red heart impressed on the back is lying on the floor. A valentine card has been slipped under the door. Our middle-aged hero stares in wonder. Is this a joke? Is it a flat letter bomb? Should he claim it or push it back across the threshold? We'll never know! -It is particularly difficult for people who live in fear to show their love. After the resurrection the apostles still lived in fear so Jesus asks Peter the question: "Do you love me?" Insisting on love is something of a mark of Jesus. Loving the Lord is always a charge to care for others. The question of Jesus stays with us hoping for an answer. This Jesus is worth letting through our defenses and locked doors. He's not a security risk. After all, his Valentine has already been slipped under the door.
- Dennis McBride in 'Seasons of the Word’
No wings to fly…
Jesus' resurrection shows that only through suffering and death we can achieve triumph. A little girl upon finding a butterfly cocoon brought it home. She waited with eager expectation until the day for the butterfly to come out finally arrived. A tiny head appeared, munching its way through the grey, paper-thin wall. She viewed the little creature with love, but was not prepared for how long it would take and how difficult a time the butterfly would have. With a small stick, ever so carefully, she decided to help the butterfly. Within moments instead of hours the butterfly was free. Then it tried to fly, but when it stretched its wings, it fell and died. "What happened?" the little girl pleaded, teary-eyed, to her father. "I even helped." "The butterfly needed that struggle" her father answered, "Without that, it was never able to strengthen its wings enough to fly."
- Harold Buetow in "God still Speaks: Listen!"


1. Let's begin with Simon out on his boat fishing alongside the other disciples. He is brooding, thinking deep thoughts not quite sure what to make of all that had happened. Then there is a flashback. He recalls how some months earlier he left his fishing nets at the seashore to become a follower of Jesus and how Jesus liked him and included him and changed his name from Simon to Peter (Petros, the Rock) because Jesus felt that Simon was strong, stable, and solid like a rock. But then all of a sudden, things turned sour. Jesus was arrested and Peter the Rock got scared and on that fateful night, he denied his Lord three times. 

The next day, Good Friday, Jesus was nailed to a cross and Simon Peter was devastated, shattered, defeated, and broken hearted. But then came Easter and Simon Peter was at one and the same time thrilled beyond belief, excited, and gratified over Christ's resurrection and yet confused and perplexed about his own future. 

Peter returns to Galilee with his friends. Several days pass and nothing has happened. Here is where our scripture of the morning, John 21, picks up. Simon Peter and his friends have been waiting there in Galilee for some time just waiting, waiting for some direction from God, but nothing has happened. Finally in typical fashion, Simon Peter gets impatient. He can't take it anymore, and he says, "I'm going fishing!" Now it's as if Simon is saying, "I can't handle this any longer. This waiting is driving me up the wall. I'm worn out with the indecision, the waiting, the risk involved; and I'm going back to the old secure life, the old life of being a fisherman." The others go along with him.

They fish all night, but no luck. But then as dawn breaks, they see someone standing on shore. It's the Risen Lord, but they don't recognize him at this point. He tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They do, and they bring in a huge catch of fish: 153 large fish. John turns and says to Peter, "It is the Lord." Simon Peter excitable and impulsive dives in and swims to shore urgently. The others come in on the boat. As they come ashore they see the Risen Christ cooking breakfast for them over a charcoal fire. After he serves them breakfast, he takes Simon Peter off to the side and three times he asks him the same question: "Simon, do you love me?" "Oh yes, Lord," Simon answers. "You know that I love you." "Then, feed my sheep," the Risen Lord says to him. "Feed my sheep." 

Then the story ends exactly the way it started months before with Christ saying to Simon at the seashore these words, "Follow me!"... 

2. Lamps:

Every large city has a store in which there is nothing but lamps - hundreds and sometimes thousands of lamps. Some are antique, some are new. Some are plain, some are ornate. Some of them unplugged. Some of them are plugged in and showcasing their light.  

One day a little girl was asked by her mother which lamps she liked best. "I like best the ones where the light shines out."  

There are over 300,000 Christian churches in the US. Some are antique, some are new. Some are plain, some are ornate. Some are not plugged in. And some of the ones plugged in keep their light mainly to themselves.

God likes best the ones where the light shines out.
But what does it mean to shine out the light into a world like ours?

What is North Korea going to do next? If you live in South Korea, or Austin, Texas, you are following every move of another "Little Kim" other than Kim Kardashian.

How do we shine the light in a world frozen by fear, flawed by distrust and fractured by dissension, a world every day helplessly teetering on the edge of disaster?

 But this was the world of the first century. It was the world the first disciples of Jesus faced. It is also the world faced by all of Jesus' twenty-first century disciples...
 3. Important to Repeat 

I was an 8th grade teacher at Floyd Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. A group of teachers were waiting in a room to play the students in a basketball game. I remarked to my principal, "You know what I have discovered about teaching? 50% of teaching is repeating directions." My principal shot right back, "What did you say?" I said, "50% of teaching is repeating directions."

The laughter of other teachers helped me to get the joke, and I laughed with them.

Anyone working or living with children knows that messages, directions, orders, everything has to be repeated multiple times before anything seems to register. Has anyone ever taken out the garbage after being asked only once? How many of you children clean your rooms after one invitation? How many of you write thank-you notes after only one entry in the "Things to Do" list you make up every day?

But instructions aren't the only things we need to hear more than once in order to take them to heart. In order to survive and thrive we all need to hear someone say to us, "I love you." And it needs to happen more than once a year. For some of us who have weathered the hurts of broken relationships, saying, "I love you," for the first time again is one of the most frightening things we will ever do.
David Beckett, Just Say, 'I Love You'
 4. Keeping the Wheels Turning 

Years ago, preacher friend Stan Bailey sent this story around in his church newsletter. It's a story about a visitor to a heavy-duty grease factory. He says the visitors were ushered into a large room and a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory, with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, packaging-incredible activity.  

As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, "I didn't see a shipping department." The guide responded, "Well, we don't have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning."

Brother Stan concluded:  

Friends, the Church is the best lubricated grease factory in all of history. What's missing is the shipping department. The church does not exist for itself; it exists to bring others to a commitment to Jesus Christ. 

John E. Harnish, Collected Sermons,
5. Humor: 153 Fish 

It is so easy to get caught up in trivial interpretations of scripture and miss the point.

Take a look at John 21:11: "Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn." Now, why in heaven's name was there 153 fish? Have you ever wondered about that? No? Well others have. 

Cyril of Alexandria in the 5th century said that the 100 represented the fullness of the gentiles, the 50 symbolized the remnant of Israel and the three of course was there for the Trinity.

Augustine's theory (5th century) was a little more complicated. He said, there are 10 commandments and 7 is the perfect number of grace and that's 17 right? Now if you add all the numbers from 1 to 17 together, you know 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 all the way up to 17 you'll get 153. And not only that but if you were to arrange them with 17 fish in the first row, and 16 in the next row, and 15 in the next row, all the way down to a row of 1 you get a perfect triangle which of course symbolizes the Trinity.

Jerome, he also lived in the 5th century, suggested that there were 153 different types of fish in the sea and it was symbolic of the church reaching all the people in the world. 

Personally I have my own theory, want to hear it? I think that it's mentioned because there were 153 fish in the net. 

Here's another theory of mine: they had to divide them somehow, and so Peter being the Skipper he got 21% or 32 fish, and John being mate got 16% that's 25 fish, and the other five got 10.5% each or 16 fish.... 

You see we can get so caught up in really trivial stuff and miss the point that we need to be obedient to Christ, today. 

Brett Blair,, Adapted from the sermon "Live for Today" by Denn Guptill.
 6. What Do You Know? 

Dr. Carlyle Marney was one of the great preachers in the South during the time after the Second World War. He was a mentor and role model to many pastors. One of the stories attributed to the rich legacy he left behind took place on a seminary campus where he was invited to be the speaker for a distinguished lectureship. One of the students asked, "Dr. Marney let us hear you say a word or two about the meaning of the resurrection." It was a fair question and an appropriate one from a future preacher to one who was already a great practitioner of the art of preaching. However the young seminary students were taken aback by Marney's response. Dr. Marney replied, "I will not discuss that with people like you."  

"Why not?" the students asked.  

Marney said, "I do not discuss such matters with anyone under thirty years of age." Marney continued, "Look at you! Just look at you. You are in the prime of your life. Full of talent and energy. Very few if any of you have experienced poverty, failure, defeat, heartbreak or a brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks. So tell me, what in God's name can any of you know of a dark harsh world which only makes sense if Christ is raised from the dead?"  

Eric S. Ritz, The Ritz Collection,

 7. We should be thankful for our tears: They prepare us for a clearer vision of God.

 William A. Ward
 8.  Chance to Wipe the Slate Clean 

Some years ago the London Daily Telegraph carried a letter written by an eleven-year-old boy to his mother while he was on vacation in Switzerland. He wrote this: "Dear Mom, yesterday the instructor took eight of us to the slopes to teach us to ski. I was not very good at it, so I broke a leg. Thank goodness, it wasn't mine! Love, Billy." Now, that mother had only a limited insight into what actually happened on the ski slopes of Switzerland that day. And you and I have only a limited insight into what happened on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that day. But one thing we know. Jesus asked Simon Peter "Do you love me?" three times. Why did he badger him so? Was it because Peter had denied his Lord three times and wanted to give him three opportunities to affirm his love and thus wipe the slate clean? I think that is so.  

Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words,
8. The Golden Hour 

Artist Bill Herring loves his home state of Texas. He sees beauty in the landscape, even in the dry desert ground and the dull, green bushes that squat along the horizon. Ordinarily, this landscape is dry and ugly. But then there comes what Herring calls the "golden hour." Sometime in the fall, these bushes bring forth gorgeous yellow flowers. Just before sunset, when the fading sunlight washes over the caramel soil and the lush yellow flowers, it lends everything a shimmering, golden glow. What once looked dull and lifeless, in the glow of the golden hour, takes on a whole new beauty.

This was the disciples' golden hour, the hour when everything would begin to fall in place for them. Jesus appears to them and challenges them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat--and the harvest of fish which they reap is beyond their wildest dreams. If there is one totally predictable theme in the Bible, it is this: blessings follow obedience. The disciples obey, and suddenly they catch a boatload of fish.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,
 9. Mixed Metaphors 

English professors love to catch the errors students make in their term papers, and they love nothing better than to catch mixed metaphors. The "friends and survivors" of Calvin College English department collected this list of mixed metaphors and posted them on their web site:

 "He swept the rug under the carpet."
"She's burning the midnight oil at both ends."
"It was so cold last night I had to throw another blanket on the fire."
"It's time to step up to the plate and cut the mustard."
"She's robbing Peter to pay the piper"...
 From Fr Tony Kadavil’s Collection of Stories 

1: Do you love me? Fiddler on the Roof is a musical by Sheldon Harnick which had 3000 Broadway performances. It is based on the book Tevye and his Daughters by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters who owned a milk business, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. Finally, he had to move out of his village because of the edict of the reigning Tsar who evicted the Jews from their village. There is a very tender and moving scene in the play, Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye and his wife Golda are being forced to move from their home in Russia. One day Tevye comes into the house and asks his wife, “Golda, do you love me?” “Do I what?” “Do you love me?” Golda looks at him and then responds: “Do I love you? With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town, you’re upset, you’re worn out, go inside, go lie down, maybe it’s indigestion.” Tevye interrupts and asks the question, “Golda, do you love me?” Golda sighs as she looked at him and says, “Do I love you? For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cows. After 25 years, why talk of love right now?” Tevye answers by saying, “Golda, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared, I was shy, I was nervous.” “So was I,” said Golda. “But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other,” Tevye continued, “and now I’m asking, Golda, do you love me?” “Do I love him?” Golda sighs. “For 25 years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, 25 years my bed is his! If that’s not love, what is?” “Then you love me?” Tevye asks. “I suppose I do!” she says. “And I suppose I love you too!” he says. “It doesn’t change a thing, but after 25 years it’s nice to know.” “Do you love me?” is the same question Jesus is asking Peter in the closing scene of the Gospel of John.

2: Interview for telegraph operator: Fr. Mark Link S.J. once told an incident that happened during the great depression (AD 1929-1939). Jobs were scarce, and when an opening was announced, dozens of applicants applied. On this particular occasion, they crowded into a waiting room, eager to be interviewed for the position of telegraph operator. But the noise of their conversation competed against a steady background of dots and dashes. Suddenly, the door opened and yet another applicant entered the room. After standing there quietly for a moment listening attentively to the dots and dashes, he walked to a door marked “Private” and knocked. The personnel director opened the door and announced to the others, “You may all go now; this applicant has the job.” Furious and frustrated, the others demanded an explanation. At that, the director said, “Listen!” When the room became quiet, all heard the dots and dashes, repeating over and over the same message, “If you hear this, come in; the job is yours.” This story reminds us that God is constantly speaking to us, but, like the crowd of applicants, we are not always listening. Today’s Gospel describes how the Risen Lord reveals himself to his listening and observant apostles through a miraculous catch of fish and then confers on Peter Primacy in the Church.

3: The value of a $20 bill: A well-known speaker began a seminar by holding up a $20 bill.  He asked the audience, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?”   Hands started going up.   He then said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?”   The hands remained in the air.  “Well,” he added, “What if I do this?”  He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe.  He picked it up, crumpled and dirty.  “Now who still wants it?” Still a few hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value.  It was still worth $20.     Many times, in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel as though we are worthless.   No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes.   The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong!  We are special – let us never forget it!  This is the lesson of today’s Gospel, which tells us how Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times.

4. Feeding lambs of the Secret Service: The pastor grabbed the young man by the hand as he came out of the Church after the Easter Sunday Mass, and pulled him aside. “Young man,” he said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” The young man replied, “I’m already in the army of the Lord, Father.” The pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except as a Christmas Poinsettia and an Easter Lily?” He whispered back, “It’s because I’m in the Secret Service of Jesus.”
“Feed my lambs,” in the attorney’s office: A priest settled into a chair in a lawyer’s office. “Is it true,” said the priest, “that your firm does not charge the members of the clergy?” “I am afraid you are misinformed,” stated the lawyer. “People in your profession can look forward to a reward in the next world, but we lawyers have to take ours in this one.”

19- Additional anecdotes:

1) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk that illustrates this truth. It is a single block of marble almost 100 feet high. It is in the shape of the Washington Monument and weighs 330 tons. Originally, it was erected as a monument to the Pharaoh around the year 1850 B.C., and it watched over two thousand years of the history of Egypt’s Empire. It stood there when Abraham heard his call, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority to Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, one of the largest empires in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on top of it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, crucified upside down, as Christ predicted in today’s Gospel passage, and where hundreds of other Christians were martyred through centuries of persecution. Then the barbarians sacked Rome, and the obelisk fell.  Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when Christian Europe flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V erected the obelisk in the center of the square. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt and Rome and the barbarian hordes. Now it stands as a symbol of the universal Kingdom that has outlasted them all and that will continue to outlast those of the future, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, embodied in his Church. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ was crucified – the throne from which Jesus continues to reign, and will continue to reign, until he comes again and his Vicar hauls the bulging net to the shores of eternity. ( ).

2) “We’re Texans, and we’re going to have a barbecue.” An old Reader’s Digeststory tells about a family who moved to Seattle from Texas. The whole family was missing Texas, especially when Christmas was just around the corner and the whole place was covered in snow. We like snow on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve, just as long as it’s all gone by the time we get on the road to go to visit our families, right? Well anyway, this woman said when she went to pick up her first-grade son from school, his teacher told her about a conversation she overheard as the kids were talking about Christmas break. One boy said, “We’re Catholics, and we are going to Christmas Mass.” Another little boy said, “We’re Jewish, and we’re going to have a Hanukkah celebration.” Her little boy chimed in and said, “We’re Texans, and we’re going to have a barbecue.” (Reader’s Digest, Dec. 1999, p. 141.). Today’s Gospel describes a charcoal fire of forgiveness the Risen Lord prepared for Peter who denied him thrice and repented, and the delicious breakfast of fish grilled on that fire that He prepared for all of them. ( )

3) A school of herring that sank a 63-foot boat: The Associated Press carried a good fish story from Oslo, Norway some time back that turns out to be true. The story was about a school of herring that sank a 63-foot boat. The herring were caught in the fishermen’s net and refused to give up without a fight. When the crew tried to haul in the net, the entire school of herring swam for the bottom. This actually capsized the ship.  The skipper of the ship was quoted as saying, “I have been fishing since I was 14 and I have never seen anything like it.” Crew members tried to cut loose the net but were forced to abandon the capsized ship, which sank in 10 minutes. No one was hurt and the six fishermen were rescued by another trawler. It was not clear whether the fish escaped the net or not. ( Today’s Gospel describes how the risen Jesus ordered a miraculous catch of fish for his Apostles, headed by Peter. ( ).

4) The Pope as Chauffeur: After getting the former athlete Pope John Paul’s luggage loaded into the limo, the driver notices the Pope still standing on the curb. “Excuse me, Your Holiness,” says the driver,” Would you please take your seat so we can leave?” “Well, to tell you the truth,” says the Pope, “they never let me drive at the Vatican when I was a cardinal, and now that I’m Pope, I’d really like to drive today.” Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph. “Please slow down, Your Holiness!” pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. “Oh, dear God, I’m gonna lose my license — and my job!” moans the driver. The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio. “I need to talk to the Chief,” he says to the dispatcher. The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he’s stopped a limo going a hundred and five. “So bust him,” says the Chief. “I don’t think we want to do that, he’s really big,” said the cop. The Chief exclaimed, “All the more reason!” “No, I mean really important,” said the cop with a bit of persistence. The Chief then asked, “Who ya got there, the Mayor?” Cop: “Bigger.” Chief: “The Governor?” Cop: “Bigger.” Chief: “The President?” Cop: “Bigger.” “Well,” said the Chief, “Who is it?” Cop: “I think it’s God!” The Chief is stumped, ” You been drinking, John?” Cop: “No, Sir.” Chief: “Then what makes you think it’s God?” Cop: “He’s got the Pope as a chauffeur.” Imagine the surprise to Peter and the other disciples in today’s Gospel episode when they finally realized it was the really Big One–the Risen Lord Jesus himself who had come to see them. ( )

5) “Rest in peace.”‘ Two children, a four-year-old and a six-year-old, gave their mother a houseplant for Mother’s Day. They had used their own money, and she was thrilled. The older child said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you, but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said, ‘Rest in peace.”‘ A parent, particularly a mother, gets little chance to rest in peace this side of Heaven. Parenting is intensive leadership, 24 hours per day. The Bible describes parental leadership as follows: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Our Scripture for today is about leadership. In John’s Gospel, chapter 21, the risen Christ meets the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He cooks breakfast for them. Afterward, he turns to Simon Peter and asks him the same question three times: “Simon, Son of John, do you love me…?” Each time, Simon Peter answers yes. Then three times Jesus commands him to shepherd the sheep of his flock; that is, the people of the infant Church. ( )

6)How to Live to Be 100… or MoreOne of the most beloved entertainers of all time was the comedian George Burns. He died in Beverly Hills on March 9, 1996. He was 100 years old. When he was in his nineties he wrote a book entitled How to Live to Be 100… or More. In the book he has a chapter with the heading, “Stay Away from Funerals, Especially Yours.” George Burns said, “If you look in the obituary column in the morning, and your name isn’t there, go ahead and have breakfast.” He said that if he ever looked in the obituary column and found his name was there, he would go ahead and have breakfast anyway because he said, “I’m not leaving on an empty stomach.” Now, that kind of sense of humor kept George Burns young at heart for all of his 100 years. But the fact is that we are all going to die… and even more painful is the fact that people we love are going to die… and that can fill us with despair. Today’s Gospel describes how the Risen Lord transforms the despair of his apostles into hopes and dreams. ( ) .

7) “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” There’s a beautiful story (likely an urban legend), that speaks to this. According to the legend, Ignace Paderewski who rose to prominence as Poland’s most famous pianist and Prime Minister, once scheduled a concert in a small out-of-the-way village in hopes of cultivating the arts in rural Poland. A young mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for the Paderewski performance. When the night arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on stage. Without thinking, the mother found a friend and began visiting, and in the excitement of the evening the little boy slipped out of sight! When eight o’clock arrived, the house lights came down, the spotlights came up, the audience quieted… and only then did anyone notice the little ten-year-old boy seated at the concert piano, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” His mother gasped, the stagehands started out to grab the boy, but suddenly Paderewski appeared on stage and waved them away. Paderewski quickly moved to the piano… and standing behind the little boy, whispered into his ear: “Don’t quit. Keep playing! Don’t stop!” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side of the boy, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with great music in a magic moment. Nothing transforms life more than having the strong voice of the Master, who forever… surrounds us with His love, whisper in our ear time and again, “Don’t quit! Don’t stop! Keep on playing!” That is what Peter and his friends experienced on the shore of Tiberius as described in today’s Gospel. ( )

8) The love confessed, and the love expressed: Three little boys were debating whose mom was the most loving. The first little boy said: “My mommy loves me because I gave her a quarter, but she gave it back, saying ‘Go and buy a piece of candy.'” The second little boy argued that his mother loved him more because “If I give her a quarter, she gives me back two quarters for two pieces of candy.” The third little boy, seeing the direction of the debate, scratched his head and said, “Well, my mom loves me more because she would keep the quarter and then tell me how much that quarter will help her pay the bills.” The love confessed and the love expressed can take many different forms and not all of them are pleasant. Today’s Gospel passage describes a triple confession of love by Peter rewarded by the Risen Lord. ( ).

9) What fish? A young man in Tennessee was fishing on one of the TVA lakes. He was stopped by a game warden as he was leaving the lake with two large buckets of fish. The game warden asked, “Do you have a license to catch those fish?” “Nope,” the young man replied. “These are my pet fish.” “Pet fish?” the warden asked. “What do you mean, pet fish?” “Well,” said the young man, “Every night, I take these fish down to the lake and let ’em swim around for awhile. Then, I whistle, and they jump right back into my ice chests and I take ’em home.” “That’s a bunch of hooey!” said the warden. “Fish can’t do that.” The young man looked at the game warden for a moment, and then said, “Here, I’ll show you. It really works.” “I’ve got to see this!” said the warden. The young man poured the fish into the lake and stood and waited. After several minutes, the warden says, “Well?” “Well, what?” says the young man. The warden says, “When are you going to whistle and call ’em back?” “Call who back?” asked the young man with a grin on his face. “The FISH,” replied the warden! “What fish?” asked the young man. Fishermen are famous for their creativity. Someone has said the only question about the veracity of Jesus’ disciples is that at least four of them were fishermen. Our lesson for the day takes place after the Resurrection. It is another example of how the disciples struggled with the news that Christ had risen from the dead. ( ).

10) A teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket: During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director, “How do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized?” “Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.” “Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.” “No,” said the Director. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?” The Apostle Peter was not a normal person. He hadn’t been normal from the day Jesus entered his life. That didn’t mean he was going to get a bed by the window in a mental institution. No, what it meant for Peter is that God had big plans for him. But in order to fulfill those plans, Peter had to let go of some things, one of which was the heart-rending heavy burden of his denial of Christ. ( ).

11) “I want the band to play ‘Dixie’” : Those who visit Washington, DC make a tour of all the traditional sites like the White House, the Smithsonian, the halls of Congress and the Lincoln Memorial. There is something about standing in the Lincoln Memorial and reading the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address which gives you goosebumps. One line in the Second Inaugural reminds you what a caring and compassionate man Lincoln was. He was speaking about the coming end of the War and he said: “With malice toward none; With charity for all.” Lincoln put this idea into practice on the day that news arrived in Washington that the war was over. A crowd gathered at the White House and a military band was playing some festive music. Lincoln stood on the balcony of the White House and spoke. Instead of lashing out against the South, he spoke of the horrors of war being over. He spoke of families getting back together. He spoke of a time of peace. Then he said, “In a few moments I want the band to play and I’m going to tell them what I want them to play.” Of course, the band started getting the “Battle Hymn of The Republic” ready to play. This had been the theme song of the North throughout the Civil War. But Lincoln crossed them up. He stood there and said: “The band will now play the theme song of the people we have called our enemy. They are not our enemies anymore! We are one people again. I want the band to play ‘Dixie.'” Historians say there was a long, awkward pause. The band didn’t have the music for “Dixie,” but they finally got together and played “Dixie.” Lincoln knew that the South was not only hurting because of the horrors of the war, but also because of the shame which accompanies defeat. Lincoln was sending a clear signal to the South. Lincoln was telling everyone that there would be no punishment upon the South. Lincoln was saying that the South would be treated with love and compassion. When you love after the patterns of Jesus, caring and compassion become the cornerstone of your love. Love is not vicious or hostile. Love does not try to compound the guilt. Love doesn’t try to rub salt in the wounds of shame. ( ).

12) “Sometimes I can even sense him sitting there beside me.” An old man became gravely ill, and when the pastor came to visit, the pastor noticed a chair beside the man’s bed. “Oh, goodness,” the pastor said, “you’ve already had a visitor today.” “Oh, no,” the man replied, “let me tell you about that chair. Years ago, I told a friend that when I prayed at night, I frequently fell asleep right in the middle of my prayers. And my friend suggested that I put a chair beside my bed and imagine that Jesus is sitting there with me, because after all, he really is. So I started doing that, and you know what? It really helped. Sometimes I can even sense him sitting there beside me.” After talking with the man a while longer, the pastor went home, and later that night he got a call from the man’s daughter. She said, “Pastor, my dad just died. Can you come over?” So the pastor went to see her. The daughter said, “You know I was in the room and everything was fine. He wasn’t struggling or anything. He was just lying there peacefully. So I left the room for a moment. When I came back, he had passed away. But what’s strange is that when I came back in the room, I noticed that the chair was pulled back up beside his bed. Somehow he had managed to roll over on his side and stretch out his arm to the chair beside him.” Real solutions to real problems — that’s what the Resurrection of Jesus can mean to us: God’s power and love flowing into our lives; the forgiveness and newness that can be ours in Jesus; the assurance of his presence with us always. Jesus calls to us today to drop down our nets. ( ).

13) “I’ve never seen a newborn baby,” he said, “that weighed fifty pounds!”  Fishermen have such a reputation for, exaggeration.  Someone said that the difference between a hunter and a fisherman is that the hunter lies and waits and the fisherman waits and lies. One fisherman I heard about got tired of people doubting his veracity. He bought a scale and took it with him to his favorite hole. He insisted on weighing every fish he caught, just to prove that he didn’t exaggerate.  Months later his wife had a baby. The doctor borrowed the man’s fishing scale to weigh the baby. The doctor gasped, “I’ve never seen a newborn baby,” he said, “that weighed fifty pounds!”  Today’s Gospel describes a true fish story about a miraculous catch of fish(

14) “Say father, say, if yet my task is done”  In 1748 during the battle of Nile aboard the French Ship Orient, there took place a great and heroic event of trust. Commander Louis de Casabianca asked his young son Giocante to wait for his order to leave the deck. The boy stood on the deck waiting for his father’s orders. The ship caught fire. Flames rose to the sky. He was surrounded by flames. Finally he called out, “Say father, say, if yet my task is done” But the poor little boy did not know that his father was lying dead and cold in the bottom of the ship. He stood on the burning deck with absolute trust in his father. “Speak, father! Once again he cried. “If I may yet be gone!” While over him fast, through sail and shroud The wreathing fires made way. English poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans immortalized the trust of Giocante in the poem Casabianca. As Giocante showed unwavering trust in his father we see Peter expressing his unchallengeable trust in Jesus. (Fr. Bobby Jose). ( ).

15) The Sun has risen: The editor of one of the leading religious newspapers was walking along some cliffs near Eastbourne, England, one Easter morning. In his walk he met an old fisherman, and during their conversation together, the editor was struck by the simple Faith of the old fisherman in his risen Savior. “How do you know that Jesus has risen?” he asked. “Sir,” came the reply, “do you see those cottages near the cliffs? Well, sir, sometimes when I am far out at sea, I know that the sun has risen by the light that reflected by yon cottage windows. How do I know that Christ has risen? Why, sir, do I not see his light reflected from the faces of some of my fellows every day, and do I not feel the light of his glory in my own life? As soon tell me that the sun has not risen when I see his reflected glory, as tell me that my Lord is not risen.” – (Anthony Castle, More Quotes and Anecdote; quoted by Fr. Botelho). ( ).

16) Love Breakthrough: There is a marvelous New Yorker cartoon which depicts a moment of challenge in the life of one man. He is well on in his middle years, his hair is in retreat, and thick round spectacles sit on his nose. Dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown he stands inside his door staring at something on the floor. The door is heavily reinforced with steel brackets and a variety of bolts and locks and chains. It is a picture of security gone mad. There is no letter box to receive mail, but there is a peeping hole to see out. Clearly no one could penetrate this place without approval. But something has got through this array of defenses. A white envelope with a large red heart impressed on the back is lying on the floor. A valentine card has been slipped under the door. Our middle-aged hero stares in wonder. Is this a joke? Is it a flat letter bomb? Should he claim it or push it back across the threshold? We’ll never know! –It is particularly difficult for people who live in fear to show their love. After the Resurrection the apostles still lived in fear so Jesus asks Peter the question: “Do you love me?” Insisting on love is something of a mark of Jesus. Loving the Lord is always a charge to care for others. The question of Jesus stays with us hoping for an answer. This Jesus is worth letting through our defenses and locked doors. He’s not a security risk. After all, his Valentine has already been slipped under the door. (Dennis McBride, Seasons of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). ( ).

17) Back from the brink with Mother Teresa: Brother Andrew from the Missionary Brothers of Charity tells the following story. One day Mother Teresa received a letter written by a man on the day of his intended suicide. He wrote that, on the preceding afternoon, he had worked out all the details for what seemed to him a perfectly “rational” suicide. And then, quite by accident, he came across Malcolm Muggeridge’s biography of Mother Teresa. Bored and with nothing else to do, he started to read it. As he read, he found that book, or rather that life, giving him a new interest in life, and, as he finished it, he moved back from the brink of suicide to begin life anew. The example of Mother Teresa, until then unknown to him, had given him hope. This man had discovered that his boat was empty. But by the example of a living saint, he realized that it could be full. Today’s Gospel episode describes how a full boat of fish opened the eyes of the apostles to the Risen Lord.  (E- Priest) ( )

18) “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” All the saints exemplify this truth. None of them achieved their holiness and happiness without suffering, because only through suffering for and with Christ could their love for Christ mature. The supposed last words of St Thomas More sum up the lesson beautifully. St Thomas More was the Chancellor of England in the early 1500s, a layman, and a close friend and faithful servant of King Henry VIII. Unfortunately, the King was less faithful. When his first wife didn’t give him a son, and he found pleasure in one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, King Henry requested an annulment from the Pope. But there were no grounds for an annulment. So King Henry, instead of humbly accepting the Church’s decision and trusting in God, took things into his own hands. He declared himself the supreme head of the Church in England, denouncing the Pope’s rightful supremacy. Then with his newfound religious authority, he granted himself the annulment, so he could marry his mistress. Almost all of England’s bishops and noblemen took the king’s side in this affair, and the Anglican Church was born. St. Thomas More, the King’s highest-ranking adviser, refused to sign the Act of Supremacy and go along with the King. He and his family were threatened, cajoled, and tortured, but he would not betray Christ’s Church. Finally, he was convicted of treason and executed. There are various accounts of his last words. The 1966 Academy Award winning movie, A Man for All Seasons (based on the play of the same name by Robert Bolt)told Thomas More’s life story, in which Thomas’ his last words are recorded as: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” In this fallen world, to love Christ with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, will get us into trouble, sooner or later. But that kind of trouble is good for our souls, which is why God allows it. Suffering for Christ matures our love, and only mature love gives lasting meaning to our lives. That is why in today’s Gospel Jesus informs Peter that he will glorify God by his martyrdom. (E- Priest) ( )..

19) Would-Be Church Destroyers: Our culture is so focused on current events and headlines, that we can easily lose sight of this perspective. But a brief glance at history can remedy that. The mere fact of the Church’s endurance through twenty centuries, maintaining the same doctrine, the same forms of worship (the Mass, seven sacraments), and the same structure (bishops united under the pope’s leadership to serve believers) is, without a doubt, miraculous. It only becomes more amazing when we take a look at the actual obstacles and enemies it had to overcome. The Roman Empire tried to stamp out Christianity for 300 years. That Empire is gone; the Church remains. In the Middle Ages, the Islamic Empire extended over even more territory than Rome had, and conquered many Christian lands. It invaded Europe and tried to do away with the Church. That Empire fell, but the Church remains. In the sixteenth century, most of northern Europe rebelled against the Catholic Church in what was called the Protestant Reformation. In some countries, being Catholic became a crime earning capital punishment. Yet today, the Catholic Church remains the largest Christian community, and in those countries, the Church remains alive. In the seventeenth century a new Islamic Empire, that of the Turks, tried again to overrun Christian civilization. That Empire is gone; the Church remains. In the eighteenth century, the French Revolution tried to eradicate the Church in France, martyring hundreds, if not thousands. The Revolution passed; the Church endured. In the nineteenth century, Napoleon conquered all of continental Europe, usurped the Church hierarchy, and imprisoned two popes in efforts to take over the Catholic Church. His Empire passed away; the Church remains. In the twentieth century, Soviet Communism tried to wipe out the Catholic Church in all of its territories, as did the German Nazis. Those regimes are gone; the Church remains. Today the saga continues, in Africa, the Middle East, China, and Vietnam. The Church has endured, and it will continue to endure, just as Christ promised. Peter will bring the net to shore, overstuffed with large fishes, and the net will not be torn. (E- Priest)( )