Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Third Sunday of Easter, Year C: A bit of grilled fish and a load of bread....and Thou, sharing breakfast with Jesus"

"St. Peter's Fish," the red-bellied tilapia
It's one of those old saws, an ice-breaker to get the conversation going: "If you could sit down to a meal with any person living or out of history, then who would it be?"

Setting aside the obvious answer (seeing as how the resurrection appearance of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, and his having prepared a meal for his friends is the focus of today's blog post), who would you choose? I confess that I balk at attempting an answer, for the person I would identify is always a choice in flux. When I am feeling theological, I would choose Dietrich Bonhoeffer or perhaps Meister Eckhart. When my social justice reflexes are in play, I would choose Dorothy Day, or perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King, JR himself...or toss in the social justice with the political I would add Abraham Lincoln to the party list. Or perhaps Elizabeth of Hungary.

Look to historical figures, and I would look for a spot at the table beside Theodore Roosevelt (though I doubt I would get a word in edge-wise), or perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt. In both occasions, I would worry that I wouldn't be able to mantain the appropriate level of decorum....I am sure they both knew the difference between a fish knife and a butter knife. I would also be curious to sit down and dine with Voltaire, or Rousseau....but would then worry that my French would be a la hauteur.

Of course, and in the theme of this coming Sunday's readings I would throw them all over for the chance to sit in the midst of men who had been up and out on the water all night, stinking of fish and the funk of the inner sea's mist and spray as a charcoal fire cooked bits of fish and toast. The cold wet of the dew would be soaking into our backsides as our bodies warmed near the fire, trying to not be the one who would have to sit in the way of the fuming smoke of the charcoal. All of us would feel awkward, uneasy. It was one thing to be able to eat with Jesus before the crucifixion...that was a daily routine. This would be different....and yet the temptation to relax and enjoy the morning would be so tempting.
Bread (pita) cooked in a clay tannur oven.

I would love to sit and pick bits of fishbone from my teeth and watch with wonder and awe as Jesus and Peter shared a powerful moment as the Master asks him three times if he loves him. Three times...just the same count Jesus predicted that Peter would betray him only the week before on that terrible and fateful night. THIS is the moment when two friends find a way to overcome loss, betrayal AND death.

I can see it, smell it....the taste of the memory fills my mouth and makes it water. The power of the reconciliation being modeled brings tears to my eyes. Yes, I would give up lunch with Walt Whitman, tea with Churchill (ok, brandy and cigars), oatcakes and Scottish stovies with William Wallace...I would give it all over just to be there at that moment and to share that simple, meager breakfast with the Preacher returned from the Land of the Dead and his followers who had taken the week's end to go on a fishing trip.

A bit of grilled fish on a shred of toast, and the whole summation of what it means to follow Jesus is bound up and given to us...."Peter, do you love me? More than these? Do you? Really?

Then feed, tend, love my sheep."

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