Deacon Cornellís Homily


Acts 5:27b-32,40b-41
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19


April 24-24, 2004, 3rd Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

A very well dressed woman was coming out of the Park Plaza Hotel late at night after attending a charity ball for the welfare of homeless children in the city. As she was stepping into her limousine, a group of raggedy children approached her, and began whining, ďCan you give us a few bucks for some food, lady? We havenít had anything to eat all day.Ē The woman looked at them with disdain, and waved them away saying, ďStop bothering me. Canít you see I have been dancing all night to raise money for the likes of you?Ē

Far too many people think that religion and faith and spirituality are things that are at odds with the world. We see saintliness depicted in movies and literature as a quality that thrives in monasteries or convents or other retreats from the busyness of everyday life. Often Johnís Gospel is regarded as viewing Jesus life by focusing on his divinity at the expense of his humanity. In this Gospel, Jesus doesnít sweat or weep or have doubts. But in these two short stories we hear today from the end of Johnís Gospel, we see quite clearly that it is a gospel that is firmly rooted in the realities of life.

In the first story, we have Jesus appearing to the disciples at a time when they must have been depressed over the loss of Jesus. All the pretensions of being involved with the Messiah sent to bring salvation have evaporated with the death of Jesus and the loss of his physical presence. Peter tries to find solace in his old profession, fishing.

They have gone all night without a catch when Jesus calls out to them from the shore, and tells them to try the other side. Suddenly they have more fish almost than their nets can hold, and they struggle to bring them to shore. What does Jesus have ready for them? Breakfast! Sure, Jesus wants to remind them that they are no longer fishermen but fishers of men but first, they need some food. How practical.

And in the second story of the dialogue with Peter, Jesus reminds them what that call entails. Three times he engages Peter to recognize that he loves Jesus. And three times when Peter responds that he does indeed love Jesus, Jesus reminds Peter that his love must be expressed in the basic earthly realities: take care of the needs of my people. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.

Yes the apostles are to preach the good news, even when it gets them hauled into court as we hear in Acts. But the real reason the apostles are dragged in by the Sanhedrin is that not only were they talking about Jesus but also they were acting in his name, tending his sheep, by healing the sick and encouraging the growing number of disciples to share their wealth with the poor and needy.

This gospel speaks directly to us in this Easter season. It reminds us that we, too, are to demonstrate our love of Jesus by tending his sheep, feeding his lambs. We stand in the middle of history between the early days of the Church described in Acts and the vision of the Kingdom expressed in Revelation. And we stand here not as idle bystanders, or even as witnesses who speak our faith, but as the instruments of Godís plan to make the kingdom of God fully present on earth as it is in heaven. If all we do is say the Our Father with our voices and fail to heed the Fatherís command to follow his beloved Son, then we are like the woman who dances all night for the concept of charity, but avoids charity when face to face with it.

We gather here today to become the body of Christ which feeds his sheep and tends his lambs.

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