Thursday, April 9, 2015

An Easter Wednesday Homily

Preached for the Divine Service Mid-week after Easter (John 21:1-14)

    Work and food.  When life gets you down, when you get thrown a curve ball, when things turn from predictable to scarey, there are couple of things you can count on to restore some balance to your life.  Go to work and pour yourself into that work so that you forget what is bothering you.  Turn to the comfort foods that fill your belly, make you sleepy, and, of course, make you fat. . .

    We see both of them at work in this Gospel reading.  Peter has had enough stewing and fretting over Jesus dead and alive again, so he is going fishing – not recreational fishing but his first vocation, fishing for fish.  The other disciples run out the door with him.  Great idea!  Life may be upside down but work has its own rhythm and escape.

    But there was no escape.  Jesus was there.  And listen to what He says: Children, do you have any fish.  Ouch.  Children?  Really?  They were men, strong men, mighty fishermen.  Their hands were coarse and rough.  They had aged prematurely from too much heavy work.  And Jesus calls them kids.  Sheepishly they answer no.  No fish today.  Only troubles, trials, and tribulations.

    Then Jesus has the audacity to tell them what to do – as if they had not already tried every trick in the book.  Put the net on the other side of the boat.  It was too much.  Too many fish and too much to take in.  Peter runs to the shore leaving the heavy net to the others.  But what was Peter running to and what was he running from – could they be the same thing?

    On the shore Jesus invites them to eat... He too bread, gave thanks and fed it to them with the fish.  No subtly here.  Upper room memories were intended.  Jesus feeds them just as He directs them in their new vocation as fishers of men.  Their future was not in a boat or on the sea but with Jesus – even when the mystery, the uncertainty, and the unpredictability.  Jesus is everything.  This was the third time that Jesus showed Himself to the disciples as the risen Lord.

    So you come today.  Maybe the house needs cleaning, the yard needs work, TV is calling, or perhaps the mall.  It is easy to turn to our familiar haunts when life is too much to deal with.  Work, play, and food.  That is what comforts us.  The truth is that sometimes it is just plain uncomfortable to be a Christian.

    Jesus knows that.  He knows us.  He gives us a new vocation as His witnesses who love our neighbors as He has loved us and as people who tell others what we believe.  And He feeds us.  Not the ordinary bread that lasts but hours but the bread of heaven which feeds us eternal life.  And He gives us the blood that cleanses us from all our sins.  Our comfort does not lie in running from faith or running from Scripture or running from the Church.  Our comfort, as uncomfortable as it sometimes is, lies in Christ and in the new calling of our baptismal lives and in the new food that anticipates the marriage supper of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.

    You are right to come.  The Lord’s sacramental presence in Word and meal beckons you from the ordinary routines of our lives.  And the Lord’s sacramental presence in Word and meal sends us forth for the new baptismal vocation of worship, witness, service, and mercy work.  This is our comfort – not escaping from the hard things of the Kingdom and the hard sayings of Jesus but facing them, confronting them,  chewing on them, and digesting them.

    Come, have breakfast. Amen.

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