- Psalm 23 (VU p.749)
- John 21:1-19
Early Thoughts: What do you do when the world has been changed?
The 50 days of the Season of Easter (also called the Great 50 Days) is a time when we explore that very question. OK, arguably the whole church year is when we explore that question but these Sundays when we tell the appearance/resurrection stories the question has a somewhat sharper focus.
This story tells us that Peter's response was to go back to what he knew best. Yes he had experienced the Risen Christ. Yes he knew what had happened. But still, his world had been torn apart, the world had been changed, and he and his friends went back to what they knew best. After all, there is comfort in the familiar.
And there they meet the Risen Christ again. Sometimes you just can't escape the changed world.
And the appearance of the Risen Christ in their midst, the presence of God among them, is all about food. They know he is there through a massive, miraculous catch of fish. And then he tells Peter to feed his sheep.
Catch fish---remember that memory of the call of Peter and Andrew at the beginning of the story where they were told to leave their nets and become fishers of men. Feed my sheep, tend my sheep---care for those around you, see that they get what they need, listen to them, pay attention.
Some scholars suggest that this story also serves as a sort of restoration for Peter, whom tradition still refers to as the first Pope. The threefold questions about love thus serve to counter Peter's threefold denial after Jesus' arrest. And it is possible, maybe even probable, that this was in the Gospel writer's mind.
But in the Greek there is something more intriguing. The first time Christ asks the question the word agape is used but Peter responds with phileo. Both accurately translate to the English word love. But they are different in degree. So it appears that Peter is unable to offer what Christ is asking for. The third time it is asked the question uses phileo. Christ models that how we care for the people around us is by meeting them where they are at. This is more important than being right. This is more important that insisting on "my way or the highway".
Catch fish, feed sheep. Care for each other, care for your selves. Meet each other where you are and grow together. That is one way to react when the world is changed.