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Snap out of it!

May 1, 2022

A reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C. The readings are Acts 5:27-32. 40b-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19 and John 20:19-31.

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Today’s Gospel is so full of meaning – there’s so much there that we can’t possibly cover it all. At the same time, there are things in it that I find confusing. The apostles have already seen the Risen Lord; why are they fishing? And why don’t they recognize Jesus? Although from what we know of other resurrection stories, it seems that the Risen Christ is hard to recognize. And finally, what’s this awkward conversation between Jesus and Peter about? What’s going on there? Let’s look into it, because I think there’s a very important lesson for all of us here.

In 1987 there was an excellent movie called Moonstruck. It starred Cher and Nicolas Cage and won three Academy Awards. There’s a very famous scene in the film where Nicolas Cage tells Cher that he is in love with her; that she has ruined his life, turned his life upside down, he’s madly in love with her – turns out she’s about to marry his brother, so she slaps him and says, “Snap out of it!”

I think that’s a bit of what’s happening in today’s Gospel story.

First: Why are the apostles fishing? They’ve already seen Jesus twice after the Resurrection. But still, it seems like that’s not enough. They are still not sure what to do. I think that they are still a bit sad, a bit discouraged and probably very confused. For one, they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know when they are going to see Jesus again – or if they are going to see him again. So it makes sense that they decide to go back to what they used to do.  Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” And the others go with him. Don’t we do the same thing when things get tough? Sometimes we start making a positive change in our lives; we start doing something that’s real good, but then, undoubtedly it gets hard (cause when you start something new it’s bound to get hard at some point). That’s what happens when we follow Jesus – things get hard. Then we get discouraged and we stop trying. What we’re supposed to do is keep at it. Life is always going to have difficulties. But, so often, when things get tough, when we’re sad, when we’re angry, when we’re discouraged, when we’re confused, it’s easier to just go back to what we used to do. We do it all the time. And that’s what the disciples do too. They stop trying and instead, go fishing. They need to snap out of it!

And then Jesus appears to them and they don’t recognize him. There’s something to say about how different Jesus may have been after the Resurrection (cause no one recognized him), but I think there’s also something to say about how when we are discouraged, sad, angry or confused, we are so focused in on ourselves and our own misery or our own plans, that we don’t even recognize Jesus when he’s right there with us. We have to snap out of it.

But John thinks it’s Jesus and Peter is so excited he jumps in the water and swims to shore. That’s what Peter does ’cause he’s impulsive.

And then there’s this very interesting conversation. I think that when Peter thought about it afterwards, all he could hear are Jesus’ words ringing in his ears: “Follow me.” And he probably remembered the first time he met Jesus and Jesus called him. He probably remembered when they were in Caesarea Philippi and Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” and then told Peter, “You are a rock and on this rock I will build my Church.” Not 30 seconds later he was telling Peter, “Get behind me, Satan. Follow me.”

But I think that the one conversation Peter was reminded of was the last one they had before Jesus’ arrest, at the Last Supper, when Jesus told them that he was going away and where he was going, they couldn’t follow. Peter had asked, “Why can’t we follow you?” and then he said, “I will follow you to the end.” Jesus then told him that before the cock crowed the next morning, he would deny him three times. And now Jesus was telling him, “Follow me.” Now, you can follow me. It was probably all very confusing.

And I don’t know exactly how that conversation, while they were having a breakfast of fish and bread on the beach, went – I don’t know if Jesus took Peter aside, maybe. That’s not how I imagine it. I imagine it a conversation between all of them. They are eating and laughing like they always did, and Jesus is asking them about that night when he was arrested. They are joking about how scared they were and maybe even making fun of Peter telling everyone how he didn’t know Jesus. All in good fun. And Peter says, “I was scared. I was so scared. I thought we were next. Honestly, I am still a bit scared.” And then Jesus says to him, “Simon, don’t be scared. Do you love me?” Peter says, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus says, “Good, that’s all that matters. Feed my lambs.” Then there a bit of an awkward silence and and then someone makes a joke about how Jesus is asking Peter to be a shepherd because, clearly he can’t fish. Jesus then says that at least as shepherd they could have naps during the day because obviously they can’t stay awake even an hour. James says, “Of course we fell asleep, we were so drunk. Do you know how much wine we’d had?” They laugh. Someone says something about Judas and Peter adds, “I was so angry at him. I couldn’t understand what he was doing. “Then he says ,”I’m still angry at him. I feel so angry.” Jesus stops him and says, “Simon. Don’t be angry. Do you love me?” Peter is taken aback, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” “Good”, says Jesus, ”Stop being angry. Tend me Sheep.” There’s another silence and Jesus asks them about the others (because they weren’t all there) and about Mary Magdalene. John says, “Mary is amazing, but she’s crazy. She was so hysterical she was that morning saying that someone had stolen Jesus’ body.” John then says that he ran so fast to the tomb but had to wait for old Peter to get there. Peter glares at him, “Hey, I was right behind you.” He then says, “I just didn’t believe it. Even after seeing the empty tomb. I didn’t believe it.” He looks at Jesus and says, “I’m sorry, Lord, but even now, you’re here and a part of me doesn’t believe it. It’s so hard to believe.” Jesus says, “Peter, snap out of it! Stop. Do you love me?” Peter doesn’t know how to answer, “I just told you. You know everything. Of course I love you.” Then Jesus says, “That’s all that matters. Stop worrying about how hard it is to believe. Stop being angry. Stop being confused and scared. Snap out of it. Love me and feed my sheep.”

 Then he looks at all of the guys and says to them, “Do you love me? That’s all that matters. I know this is hard and confusing. But only one thing matters. Do you love me? Before you met me, you could do whatever you wanted. But now, things are different. Now you’re with me. This is the deal. If you want to follow me, you have to go where I go. I went where I didn’t want to go, but I went out of love for you. Remember? There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. John, James: remember you wanted to sit at my left and my right? Well, this is it. You want to drink of the same chalice as me? Yes? Well, then, love me. And if you love me, you will help me take care of my sheep. Follow me.”

Today, Jesus asks us the same question: Do you love me? You may feel discouraged, sad, confused, upset or angry and when you do you may tend to look inwardly; to focus too much on yourself; on your feelings, your own plans, on your own misery – so much that you don’t even recognize Jesus. So much that you need to snap out of it.  Jesus doesn’t want you to feel any of those things, but if we want to follow Jesus, that’s part of the deal. How do we stay the course? Do you love him? Stop focusing on yourself and your feelings and focus on him. Do you love him? And if you love him, start helping him take care of his sheep. This is great advice because when we are too focused in our own misery, the best thing to do is think about others. Go and help the St. Vincent de Paul Society; go help Ukrainian refugees; go help at the food bank or the friendship café. Snap out of it. Get out of yourself and help Jesus take care of his Church.

Today Jesus asks you, “Do you love me?” That’s the only thing that matters. But don’t just say, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you”. Go and help him take care of his sheep. Stop worrying so much about your own misery. Snap out of it and follow him.

From → English

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