And our text from the lectionary was John 21 where the resurrected Jesus appears again to the disciples. Here we find them going back to their day jobs, many of them who were commercial fisherman. They have one of those terrible nights of frustration and futility as they fish all night without catching a thing. And then this man whom they do not recognize calls to them from the shore, telling them to throw their net on the other side. And for reasons that seem hard to understand, they do it. Even though I imagine some consternation and head-shaking over the nerve of this guy, for hadn't they already tried a hundred times? And so they cast their nets again and this time pull up a catch of fish so large they can’t even haul it in. And in that moment they recognize the Risen Lord. They recognize their friend, their rabbi, their Lord, their God in the flesh, now in a wounded and glorified body. And the story unfolds into these intimate moments where Jesus makes breakfast for them. Can you imagine? God making you breakfast?
I love this story with its rich metaphor amidst the intimacy and humility of Christ. But I am especially struck with how their encounter with the Risen Lord transforms their everyday lives. They are at work, returning to the grind of making a living wage. They are experiencing disequilibrium as they thought they lost everything when Jesus was crucified and then were utterly shocked and in disbelief when they saw him resurrected. He is appearing and disappearing, and walking through walls. And they still have no idea what this means.
But it is here in the sweat and the frustration and the bewilderment that Jesus shows up. It is here on this lake where they’ve spent so much of their life that Jesus transforms the ordinary into extraordinary. And he calls them once again, just as he did three years ago in a very similar scene, to the work of the kingdom. And of course, Jesus does it in this striking scene of incarnation -- over a meal, face to face as they share communion once more with fish and bread, tears and laughter. And he reminds them what this is all about. Love. If you love me, you will feed my sheep. You will continue what I started. You will reimagine your ordinary, everyday lives as the context for resurrection miracles.
And I can't help but think about my own neighborhood and the ordinary context of my own life and all the people and places that I love. And I can't help but feel my own disorientation and bewilderment at times about what God is up to here. For the spiritual journey is full of twists and turns, with many disappointments and deaths. But I hear the voice of Jesus calling me to cast my nets to the other side. To allow the Spirit of God to do the work when I grow tired. To turn what seems like the futility of the ordinary [lost jobs, friendships, loved ones, energy, health, hope or vision] into something extraordinary.
And I hear the invitation of Jesus to come eat the meal he has prepared for me -- feeding my soul, nourishing my body, and kindling hope once again. And then I hear his voice. If you love me, you will feed my sheep. And I am struck by this poignant image that as Jesus feeds me, he asks me to do the same, to feed others the Eucharistic meal. As we gather with our neighbors around the table and at community meals and at the Methadone clinic. We are invited to intimately and humbly serve others and to partake of this bread of life that reveals the Christ - that reveals God among us, that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
by Jessica Ketola