THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER: Year C, 14 April.

“Yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” These words appear in THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL READING [JOHN 21: 1 – 19].   As I read these words, a thought jumped into my head ….. there are a number of other incidents in which disciples did not recognise the Lord after his resurrection.  In addition to this incident we could recall Mary of Magdala who mistook him for the gardener, and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus – even though he walked and talked with them “on the road.” (Luke 24: 13 – 35)

At the same time do not overlook Thomas who knew him but had to be ‘browbeaten’ into recognition.

Then, there is another phrase in this Gospel extract which is interesting.  Bear in mind “that the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter ‘it is the Lord’ …. (and Simon Peter) sprang into the sea.”  After all this we encounter yet another paradox: “now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”

For a time they continued to live in ‘no-man’s land’.  Were they hedging their bets?  Why did Peter spring into the sea – and then remain hesitant? {Recall Peter’s encounter with Jesus when the disciple began to walk on the water?}

In a Retreat preached during Lent I spent time on the incident on the Emmaus road,  and proposed a personal conviction – that the two disciples KNEW who the stranger was but did not RECOGNISE him!  There is a difference between knowledge and recognition!

Recognition involves an appreciation and acceptance of whom the other really is – what he or she stands for, as well as how this recognition affects ME!

Had the Emmaus disciples ever really understood who Jesus was?  Had they not developed their own agenda and ‘pinned’ it on to him?  He had failed to live up to their expectations – and there lies the cause of their disillusionment.  Why were the disciples on the shore afraid to ask him who he was?  It is interesting to note that Mary of Magdala only recognised him when he called her by name!

All these questions present us with profitable areas of reflection.  Perhaps we need to step out of our comfort zones and allow the Lord to call (challenge?) us BY NAME? ‘Pierre!  What is going on here?’  “Come and have breakfast.”  In other  words – ‘let’s have a chat’. Are we, too often, afraid of asking him who he is and what it is he requires of us?

After all we have remembered and celebrated in these past weeks we should always be able to RECOGNISE our breakfast host for whom he really is! TODAY’S PSALM [30 or 29] provides a splendid outline of the reality: “Be my helper, Lord,  you have changed my mourning into dancing. … his favour lasts all through life.” However, such recognition must never equate with a recognition which makes us hesitant with a false self-effacement.

Here it is helpful to take a good look at THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND SCRIPTURE [REVELATION 5: 11 – 14].  This will influence the manner of our worship. Do not forget that the one we worship is the same one who invites us to breakfast with him.  It may well be a paradox but it is the truth.  Worship of the Risen Lord is supposed to change, liberate, and set us free.  It is not intended to make us cringe in trepidation.  Indeed, we have a duty to worship, but the resurrection also gives us a right to do so.

As the reading from Revelation tells us, we have a right, with all the other creatures under heaven, to be around the throne.  Indeed, there is a falling down to worship but we must also recognise the atmosphere of joy and happiness.

Do joy, happiness, and enthusiasm truly characterise our worship at Sunday Eucharist in which the Lord invites us to have breakfast with him?  We should not be ‘creeping’ into our Sunday Eucharist as if we are second class citizens focussed only on beating our breasts.  What stops us also standing erect and proclaiming Glory to God in the highest?   Do reverence and respect for our host exclude expressions of human joy and enthusiasm?

Now reflect on the message of the FIRST SCRIPTURE READING [ACTS 5: 27b – 32. 40b – 41].

If our worship is not both human and enthusiastic how effective is our witness?  I suggest that if we are dreary at Mass then our witness will be dreary and half-hearted …. if there even exists any real motivation to actually witness?  We are told that “they charged the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus.”

I like that word charged! In the first place, batteries need to be charged.  How often when departing Sunday Eucharist is there any need for us be charged not to witness?  We only need to be charged not to do so, if we have charged our batteries.  A car with a flat battery is unable to function.

Our batteries are charged when we celebrate Eucharist with him whom we recognise.


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