Here is my homily for this weekend. May God bless each of you!
Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle C
Acts 5: 27-32, 40B-41; Rev. 5: 11-14; John 21: 1-19
April 13/14, 2013
“It was already dawn,” we hear in the Gospel. The light had come and darkness was giving way to the light. The obscurity and confusion of the long night were receding. Things were getting a little clearer. You know how it is in the early morning hours, i.e., you think you see something, but then maybe not.
Peter and others had been fishing. They had caught nothing. The Resurrection had happened. The Tomb had been found empty. Jesus had appeared to them in the upper room. He had passed through their walls of fear. This was to be the third time Jesus would reveal himself to them, but they were unprepared. They were still trying to make sense of it all, so they resorted to their former way of making a living: they went fishing. They understood fishing. They had done it a thousand times.
And it would be the fish that would open their eyes to Jesus. It would be the catch that made the difference. Jesus didn’t scold them for not clearly seeing him. Instead, Jesus told them, “Try fishing again. You failed the first time; try a second. You will catch something.” And so they did. They took the second chance that was given to them by Jesus, a second chance to see and believe.
Jesus took a second chance with Peter, didn’t he? Peter had let Jesus down badly during the Passion, but Jesus founded the Church upon the “rock” who was to be Peter. He had faith in Peter. Do you remember last week’s Gospel? St. Thomas refused to believe the first time, and Jesus gave him a second chance to see and believe. “Put your finger in the nail marks of my hands and your hand in my side, and do not persist in your unbelief, but believe.” “My Lord and my God” Thomas exclaimed.
Yes, second chances: Sometimes we are given them and sometimes we have to take them. Sometimes we get second chances in life, in love, in relationships, in our spiritual lives.
To give someone a second chance requires courage and faith in that person. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this in marriage counseling, someone having the courage to love again, the willingness to take the risk, to have faith again in someone.
To take a second chance in someone requires we be willing to forgive and take a great risk in trusting once again – our wives or husbands, our neighbors or our friends – yes, even as Jesus said, our enemies.
To be given a second chance is a gift of faith that someone offers to us, and it places upon us a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid when we offer that same faith to others.
There will come a time though when second chances will cease. A time of finality that will endure forever, a time when all will be defined and closed, a time of death from this life and either life eternally with God in heaven or eternally separated from him in darkness, pain and loneliness which we call hell but as long as we live in this world God continually gives us second chances. He freely forgives us when we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Each time we sin, each time we stumble, each time we deny him like Peter denied him, he gives us another chance to stand up, say we are sorry, and renew our love for him. He then renews his faith in us. He says. “I am faithful. I will trust you to carry on my work in this world. Now, you must feed my sheep!”
When we sin, when we deny him, his question to us always is, “Do you love me?” If we say, “Yes, Lord! You know I love you,” then he will command us, “Feed my sheep.”
“Feed my sheep!” We cannot love God if we don’t love God’s people, each other. When we receive his forgiveness, then God tells us we must go forth and care for those he has entrusted to us – our wives and husbands, our children and parents, our grandparents and elders, our parish and our community. In other words, we are to forgive them and love them and give them another chance in life, just as Jesus has done for us.
It is already dawn in our lives. Light has come and darkness is giving way. We have celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead. He truly has risen, and the tomb was in fact empty. This is no fairy tale. It is fact. All we need to do now is recognize him when he asks us to “go fishing,” in other words to go about our daily lives. We will recognize him in the work we do, in the harvest we reap, in the catch, in the fruit of our work. We will recognize him when we love and forgive others. We will even find him when we fail to love him because he will so freely forgive us and renew his trust in us.
My friends, the Lord has risen! He is alive! He is present now among us! Let us feed the sheep! Let us renew our faith in each other! Let us trust in God’s faith in us!