Our gospel for this Sunday is an interesting portion of our faith tradition. There are two stories within this text, the appearance of Jesus on the seashore and the rehabilitation of Peter by Jesus. This is the last resurrection appearance in St. Johns gospel. There is great movement from Jerusalem (Crucifixion) to Galilee (fishing), from indoors (the Upper Room) to outdoors (Sea of Galilee). The purpose for this switching is so that Peter can be rehabilitated from his former ways of denying Christ. It’s noteworthy that since his denial of Christ, he has been silent and only now do we hear him speaking up.
Jesus enters a deep conversation with Peter after the fishing trip is over, and he and the other disciples are on shore for breakfast with Jesus. It is there that Simon, Son of John, is asked if he loves Jesus. Jesus doesn’t address him as Peter because he had failed miserably in proving his love for the Lord. Now he is given an opportunity to redeem himself and regain his status as “the Rock” upon which Jesus wishes His church to be founded. Jesus three times asks him if he loves him and this time he responds from his true heart. Following immediately upon this response, Peter is given the task of caring for the sheep of Jesus’ flock by feeding them physically and spiritually as He has done. Now he must really prove his love for the Lord.
Our “take-away” from this gospel-lesson should be that we are given the same chance that Peter had in being able to turn back to the Lord. Resurrection is not only in reference to the body, but also includes a restoration of our spirits, that may have been dampened by separating ourselves from the lord. We need to hear the words directed at Peter but also meant for all of us who choose to follow Jesus “Follow Me!” It’s the life-giving words that give us purpose, show us the way, and remind us of our primary duty. In todays Psalm we can garner hope: “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Here we are three weeks after Easter and we still have reason to proclaim: