Acts 5:27-32,40-41; Ps 30 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
As we turn toward the third week of Easter, in these 50 days of rejoicing and reflecting we have been given to recollect ourselves and conform our lives to the invitation of Christ, the church gives us some beautiful readings for our heart and mind to be engaged.
The reading from Acts invites us to meditate on the boldness of the apostles who were once terrified and locked away in the upper room but now are out in the public square, refusing to back down, refusing to back off but insistent on giving witness, "we must obey God rather than men."
It is an opportunity for us to locate our fervor, our boldness, to rekindle our drive or at least beg the Lord to strengthen us as we go.
The Second reading invites us into heaven. We spy the countless number of living creatures and elders who cried out in a loud voice, "worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing." We are invited to examine our lives and to see if we have given any credence to the lamb that was slain. Have we engineered our life around worship and praise or have other things, lesser things come in the way.
OF course the gospel offers another opportunity to be amazed.
Jesus, the one with a thousand answers for life's problems and hectic reality comes with a question that is the question of all questions. OF all the things he could have asked Peter, why did he choose that one, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Three times Simon is addressed with that simple question, "do you love me?"
How often have we begged the Lord to ask for anything and everything else but love? How often have we skirted the question of love by pointing to our accomplishments, our work, our business, our task, our donations, our time. Yet there he is standing on the shore looking at Simon son of John and all the while staring right at you and me, "Do you love me?"
What is our answer? How do we respond? What in our life points to the deeper reality of our relationship with him? What have let get in the way? What substitutes have we allowed to take the place of true and abiding love?
How have we allowed that love we profess to be translated into action, feeding and tending his sheep? How often have we loved the shepherd but denied the sheep?
Lastly I direct you gaze to the psalm, nestled quietly between the first and second reading. How many times does it go unnoticed?
The response today i find quite moving: "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me."
Do we think about having been rescued? Have any of us ever had an experienced of being rescued, where our life was on the brink of destruction and demise and yet from the depth of darkness we were pulled back and given life.
When i was young teen ager, probably around 8th grade or 9th grade, maybe a little young, i can't recall the exact details, i was invited by a neighbor to go to the local swimming hole, Sulphur Park.
Now Sulphur Park isn't a name that strikes images of beauty and fun and all that other stuff, but nonetheless it was a public swimming hole tucked in neatly off highway 95 between Shiner and Moulton.
Many of families would go there to cool off from the summer heat, many of families but our family. According to our Father we never had time to play around there was always work to be done.
This one summer day, unbeknown to my father, even to this day, this neighbor, whose house i was staying at, invited the family, myself included, to go for a swim.
I did not know how to swim at the time. But it was fun and I was going to stay in the shallow end any way so it was no big deal. In the pool they had a big red top that the children would climb on and jump off and for the most part i enjoyed it tremendously.
Then there came a moment in which, i was invited to try my hand at the divine board. Everyone there was encouraging and telling me how easy it was. Now, remember i didn't know how to swim.
But i was wept away by the moment and decided to climb the stair and to take the leap. The neighbor had promised to catch me, he wouldn't let me go under.
Well, needless to say, i jumped and he missed. Under I went. All i remember is water and darkness and hearing voices and panic dwelling with in my chest. I remember taking gulp after gulp of chlorinated water. Fear and death began to fill my mind.
I was suspended between the surface of the water and floor of the pool, for what felt like eternity.
Finally, from nowhere, my neighbor grabbed hold and pulled me out.
IT was a pretty dramatic moment. It was a turn in my life. Things looked differently after that moment. Colors were brighter, humor was more intense, smiles meant more, every breath seem to be an explosion of goodness.
Being rescued changed me.
HAs being rescued changed you? HE is risen! Death is destroyed! We have all been rescued from the pit of destruction. Life goes on, but it goes differently.