5-1-2022 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Before there were smartphones, tablets, pods and computerized wristwatches, there was the kaleidoscope.  A relatively simple but ingenious gadget, it is a tube containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass or paper whose reflections produce changing patterns when the tube is rotated. A bit of fun with no need of batteries, it still fascinates the user.

The kaleidoscope was the first image in my mind’s eye right after I read today’s Gospel for reflection.  Three significant events wrapped up in one chapter of John’s composition, always with a hidden meaning beyond the surface words.

First we have another lakeside resurrection appearance of Jesus, as He meets up with Peter and the disciples, coming full circle from those early days when He, as a younger unknown former carpenter from Nazareth, called these same men to follow Him on a mission that would make them “fishers of men.”

Peter “steals the show,” so to speak, by plunging into the water when he saw the near bursting net full of fish and the beloved disciple’s announcement “It is the Lord.”  We, along with the others still in the boat, might well shrink back from Peter’s impulsive response, but we have to bless him for his unqualified love of Jesus. Come to think of it, why do we so often stay planted in our “comfort zone” when it comes to acknowledging our Christianity in public?  The saints we admire so much never did any such thing.

Next we have the breakfast scene.  Jesus doesn’t hesitate to act as the waiter, which underscores His self-understanding as one who serves. In offering the men a piece of bread to go with the fresh caught fish straight from the charcoal fire, John surely wants us to think of the Holy Eucharist.  It is the Bread of Life, the Gift that keeps on giving, right down to this Mass this day. How strong is our faith in the Eucharist today?  Does it still retain in our hearts and minds at least a trace of the fascination and thrill of the day we made our First Holy Communion?  It should, you know, even if tempered by what we know of the world as mature adults, as well as the flaws in the Church that presents Jesus to us.

Last but hardly least, we come to the high drama of Our Lord’s triple questionnaire addressed to Peter, still called for the last time “Simon, son of John.”  From then on He will be Peter, “petra” in Latin, the rock, and the love bond between them will be tested mightily in the years to come.  All that will culminate with Peter’s death, when someone else will lead him “where he would not want to go.”  Have we told God recently that we love Him?  Does God’s forgiveness of our often subtle or occasionally outright blatant denial of Him through sin been motive for conversion?  There is such good news in knowing that we can always join Peter in declaring, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Then, on Judgment Day, the good Lord would be able to look at our lives, so full of prayers and good works as to offset any of our sins. He would then likely smile to see our lives looking like so many brightly colored pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope. And for us that scene would be just so…..heavenly!

God love you and give you His Easter peace.

Reading I:  Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41: Peter and the apostles bravely proclaim Jesus’ name before the assembled Sanhedrin, boldly stating “We must obey God rather than men.” They add their conviction that the Holy Spirit is with them as a fellow witness.

Reading II:  Revelation 5: 11-14; John heard and saw great numbers of angels and elders proclaiming the Lamb as worthy while prostrating before Him. This posture and praise was typically given to the Roman emperor.  John is announcing a conflict between God and Caesar.

The Gospel:  John 21: 1-19, or 21: 1-14: Jesus makes a third post-resurrection appearance to Peter and the disciples seaside at Tiberius.  He breakfasts with them and then gives Peter a chance to repeal his triple denial.  Then follows Peter’s unique commission.