THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Sunday, May 5th, 2019
Readings Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
Collect O God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alt 1 Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God, who raises the dead to life. Amen. (Common Worship: Additional Collects (2004) alt.)
Alt 2 God of the new fire and feasting at daybreak: come to us in the dullness of routine and the pain of betrayal; call to us in the way of the cross and the joy of resurrection; through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Amen. (Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.)
Prayer over the Gifts
Creator of all, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth by the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate the resurrection, renew your gift of life within us. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the risen Lord
Prayer After Communion
Author of life divine, in the breaking of bread we know the risen Lord. Feed us always in these mysteries, that we may show your glory to all the world. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
8 am THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 9th CHAPTER OF THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD (ACTS 9:1-20)
REFRAIN You have brought me up, O Lord, from the dead.
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my god, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored my life as I was going down to the grave. R
Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, his favour for a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning. R
While I felt secure, I said, “I shall never be disturbed. You, Lord, with your favour, made me as strong as the mountains.”
Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear. R
I cried to you, O Lord; I pleaded with the Lord, saying,
“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper.” R
You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever. R
8 am THE EPISTLE LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 5TH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 11TH VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshipped.
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD
8 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 21ST CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.
GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.
10 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We will go with you.”
They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”
They answered him, “No.”
He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”
So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?”
And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)
After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.
We like things to stay the way they have always been.
I don’t think I am saying anything too shocking in that. We take comfort in the events of our lives unfolding in a predictable and steady way.
It is so easy to fall into the habit of eating pretty regularly at the same old places – years ago I fell into just such a habit – every chance we had to eat out, my friends and I would find ourselves at the same diner. In itself that is a comfort – the same place, the same menu, the same décor, often enough even the same table and wait staff.
It is a place that is steadily busy, but not overly crowded. Some more comfort. Busy enough to know that the food is turning over and will be fresh, not too busy to be constantly looking strangers in the eye or catching an elbow as people struggle to pass the table.
The food is tasty and the service is great. We’ll walk through the door and the wait staff recognise us. None of us knows each other’s names and we just have this place in common.
St. John tells us, in today’s account from the ministry of the risen Jesus, that an appearance of Jesus at the Sea of Tiberius, also called the Sea of Galilee, was “the third time Jesus was revealed to His disciples after being raised from the dead.” As is always the case in St. John’s Gospel, there are layers of meaning in the simple action described. For now, the Disciples, Jesus closest friends in ministry, are still fishermen.
Surely they wondered what would come next.
But, with time on their hands and a living to earn, they decide to go fishing, which was usually done at night on that sea. They took comfort in the patterns of their pre-Jesus life.
The disciples have already seen the Risen Lord, but they have not yet been commissioned by Him to make disciples of all nations (see Mt 28:15-20), nor have they received the promised Holy Spirit for the power they will need for the work of ministry (see Acts 1:4).
It was a fruitless night of work; they caught nothing. But, it was a night of pattern and regularity. Even unsuccessful fishing is a joy, or so the anglers in my life tell me – they would rather have a bad day of fishing than a good day doing most anything else.
At dawn, “Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not realize” that it was Him.
This is a common theme of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances.
The apostles have trouble recognizing Him, as we still do in the Eucharist, veiled as He is in the elements of Bread and Wine, and viewed dimly as he is from our place in the, as yet, unperfected Kingdom.
We hear that He calls out to them – “Children.”
By this first word of His address to them, He joins Himself to the Father that He taught the disciples to call out to in prayer – “Our Father, who art in Heaven…”.
When they tell Him they have caught nothing, He directs them to cast their net in another direction.
Do something different.
Do something in a new way.
Do the same thing differently.
The results? A huge haul of fish.
Saint John, who calls himself in this Gospel “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” knows instantly that the Man on the shore is Jesus. Peter immediately jumps into the water and swims toward Him, while the others get the boat and the full net back to shore. Jesus has already set up a charcoal fire and is cooking fish and bread on it, but He wants some of the fish the disciples had caught.
This breakfast, then, is to be a combined effort of Jesus and His friends – the Disciples co-create this new thing, this nourishment, with Jesus.
Peter drags up the net with one hundred fifty-three fish in it. We have to wonder who counted them and why. It is the kind of detail in St. John’s writing that usually has a deeper meaning. St. Jerome tells us that at that time, Greek zoologists had counted one hundred fifty-three different kinds of fish. This suggests that the full net represents the people the disciples would “catch”—all kinds of different people, from all nations, representing the whole of humanity, in the “net” of the Church that won’t break apart under Peter’s reckless and impulsive handling.
Jesus then cooks the fish and bread and feeds the disciples with it, calling to mind the feeding of the five thousand earlier in John’s Gospel (6:1-14), these being the only two meals in the Gospel eaten by the Sea of Galilee and the only two where fish and bread are served.
However, Jesus had more on His mind than feeding His friends as He gathered them around the charcoal fire.
He wants to have a conversation with Peter, who had three times denied Him by the light of a similar fire (see Jn 18:18). He repented with just one look from Jesus, crying tears of contrition and grief. Jesus gives Peter three opportunities to confess his love for the Lord Whom he had denied; each confession brings a specific command to Peter to care for the flock entrusted to his care.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd (see Jn 10:1-21; Ezek 34), is about to depart.
We know He established Peter as the rock of the Church, entrusting him with the keys of the kingdom (see Mt 16:19). By this charcoal fire, three times Jesus assures Peter that his denial has not disqualified him from his work of caring for God’s flock.
Jesus asks him to confess his love for Him, not his potential for heroics. Peter now knows well his own weakness, and so does Jesus – “Lord, You know everything”, Peter says. In meekness and humility, he vows his love and nothing else. Ironically, although Peter had once foolishly boasted about his willingness to die (see Jn 13:37-38), Jesus now describes the martyr’s death that awaits Peter. He has learned that martyrdom for the sake of Jesus is a grace given by God, not something to be grasped in humanity’s own bravado, a difficult but necessary lesson. Now, when Peter hears the same words he had heard three years earlier from Jesus, “Follow Me” (see Mk 1:17), he knows exactly what they mean.
Jesus has, by his resurrection from the dead, turned the “way it has always been” on its head. The established and predictable way thing have always unfolded had been undone. The predictable pattern of birth, life, and death has been abolished.
The comfortable table in the customary diner of our existence is upended.
Like meeting that favourite restaurant server in a different context is jarring for us. For instance, I once ran into the waitress that customarily serves at that diner in the grocery store. She recognised me and spoke to me as though she knew me. I only pieced it together after the awkward conversation was over and I had moved on to the next aisle.
We can feel foolish for not rolling with the change. But the reaction is, apparently, natural.
The Disciples, perhaps Peter especially, likely felt foolish for not recognizing Jesus on the beach right away. In fact, the passage gives us some hint of that – “Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord.”
Jesus brought change – Radical change to the established order.
Death no longer has the last word. The change is total.
Forgiveness, even forgiveness for abandonment of ones principles and ones friends, is on offer. We are no longer weighed down by the weight of the eternal penalty of our most grievous wrongs. Whatever it is that weighs you down has already been forgiven. Jesus carried your sin and my sin away on that long ago cross.
He overcame the encounter with eternal death, eternal separation from God, and we are baptised into Jesus new life – his restored life.
Do we live as though we have been freed from eternal death and been re-born to eternal life?
Do we live as though we have been forgiven of our most grievous sins?
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember that you love us and have established us in the eternal life of you with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As you are united to the Father, so we are united to you. Remind us that our eternal life has already begun. Help us to live as ones who know we are forgiven and freed from eternal death. This we ask in the name of the one who bore the penalty for our misdeeds and shortcomings, Jesus Christ, our Lord.