Friday, April 9, 2010

Prayers today: The Lord led his people out of slavery. He drowned their enemies in the sea, alleluia. (Ps 77:53)

Eternal Father, you gave us the Easter mystery as our covenant of reconciliation. May the new birth we celebrate show its effects in the way we live. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

St. Casilda (11th century)

Some saints’ names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something. And so it is with St. Casilda, the daughter of a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was herself raised as a Muslim and showed special kindness to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but was not convinced that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So, she made a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Vicenzo in northern Spain. Like so many other people who made their way there—many of them suffering from haemorrhages—Casilda sought the healing waters of the shrine. We’re uncertain what brought her to the shrine, but we do know that she left it relieved of illness. In response, she became a Christian and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It’s said that she lived to be 100 years old. Her death likely occurred around the year 1050. Tensions between Muslims and Christians have often existed throughout history, sometimes resulting in bloody conflict. Through her quiet, simple life Casilda served her Creator—first in one faith, then another.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (21.1~14)

Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. I'm going out to fish, Simon Peter told them, and they said, We'll go with you. So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. He called out to them, Friends, have you caught anything? No, they answered. He said, Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord! As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, It is the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish you have just caught. Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, Come and have breakfast. None of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Simon Peter
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

One of the positive results of Scriptural studies and analysis during the recent period of Christian scholarship has been the appreciation of the distinctive approach and teaching of the different Gospels. Each has its own approach with its special emphasis in the presentation of the Gospel. It has always been seen that the Fourth Gospel in many ways is on its own. It is distinct from the other three — different as they are, too, from one another. Luke is very different from Mark, and Matthew is different from both, but the three of them have very many similarities. Accordingly, they are termed the “synoptic” Gospels. The Gospel of John, though, is on its own. One of the things that we immediately notice in the Johannine Gospel’s presentation of the Resurrection is that the last chapter (ch.21) seems to be an important postscript. The conclusion of chapter 20 (verses 30-31) seems to indicate this, as does the conclusion of chapter 21 (verses 23-25). Inspired as it is, the final chapter may have been added by disciples of the school of John — with his approval, or even after his demise, yet containing his teaching, his emphasis and his clear and detailed recollections. Our Gospel today is the commencement of this chapter and is a sequel to the account in the previous chapter of the appearances of the risen Christ on the day of his resurrection and a week later, both in Jerusalem. In the Gospel of St Mark — which is generally considered to present Simon Peter’s account — the angel announces to the women at the empty tomb that the risen Jesus will see the “disciples and Peter” in Galilee. Our chapter 21 of the Gospel of St John gives us an account of “the third time” Jesus appeared to his Apostles as a group, the first two occurring in Jerusalem, as narrated in chapter 20. This “third time” was in Galilee. Now, there is a distinctive emphasis in the presentation of this third appearance to the body of the Apostles. It is that Simon Peter is well to the fore in both discipleship and in his appointed role in the mission of the risen Jesus. We may even say that the chapter consists of two parts, the first made up of our verses today, and the second being the rest of the chapter in which Simon’s office as pastor of Christ’s sheep is confirmed.

In our passage today (John 21:1-14), Simon’s love for Jesus is set forth and is the foundation for what will follow. Simon is presented as with a group of the disciples and it at the sea of Tiberius. He is with “Thomas,” — who featured in the previous chapter — “and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee,” — James and John — “and two other of his disciples.” So there were six of the Eleven, enough to consider the appearance that followed as an appearance to the Apostolic group. Simon Peter is the leader — he leads the others to fish for the night, and come morning there was Jesus standing on the shore. We may imagine the scene. The dawn is breaking. The moon has provided light for the night’s work which has come to nothing. All is still, with the sound of gentle tide lapping against the boat, large enough for the six men and their fishing equipment. The sky is clear, all is still with the sound of the occasional sea-bird crying as the sun begins to rise. They were only about a hundred yards from land and there on the shore they noticed a solitary figure. He was standing there, observing. Then they hear his voice, clear and penetrating across the surface of the Lake. “Have you caught anything?” No, they answered. “Throw your net to the right, and you will.” The authority with which this was said led them immediately to do as requested, and lo! The net heaved with a sudden force, a force they could not manage. In an instant it was filled with fish, so many as to be beyond their ability to haul in. Immediately “the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, it is the Lord!” We notice that it is not he who immediately acts, but Simon Peter. Simon in an instant puts on his main garment — for he was stripped for his work — and bounds into the water, making his way to land on foot. The slowness of the vessel would not do for him — he forges ahead in his love for his risen Master, heart pounding, mind aflame and breathless with ardent love. The Master! The Lord! The Love of his life! His throat filled with knotted emotion, thinking of nothing else, he outstrips the others in his race to be with the supreme Person of his life. Our passage shows us the love of a disciple.

Simon Peter had his flaws, and they came to the fore when the crunch came during the Passion of our Lord. He had buckled and denied knowing Jesus Christ. The glance of Christ towards him immediately following this, reminding him of Christ’s prediction that he would deny him, nearly broke his heart. He loved Jesus, loved him dearly, but he was weak. Now, on the shore, Jesus was there awaiting him. Peter forged ahead in the water, with great and strong strides, his whole frame facing the Lord of his life whom he so loved. He arrives on the shore and stands before his loving Lord and hears his words. Peter in our passage today is a picture of the loving disciple of Jesus Christ. Let us contemplate him, and resolve to love Jesus Christ in our turn as Peter did.

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