THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER (C)
Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."
What an ordinary thing to say. But it is reported in today's gospel reading from John that Jesus did just that. Of course this was no ordinary breakfast encounter. This was an encounter with the Risen Lord. The apostles had seen their Lord, teacher, master and friend die on the cross, and then seen him again appearing in their midst, with those comforting words, "Peace be with you."
I'm sure they were still not sure what to make of it all. And so they went back to fishing. They went back to business as usual. They carried on. And when Jesus appeared to them again, they didn't even recognize him. "The disciples did not realize it was Jesus" speaking to them as they fished, according to the gospel account. And when they did realize who it was (because John pointed it out to them), the first thing the Risen Lord said to them was, "Come, eat breakfast."
Sometimes we forget just how ordinary Jesus was. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that is true. He is eternally begotten of the Father, the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh -- but he was made flesh. He was fully human, as well as being fully divine. He was like us in all things but sin. And that means that while he walked on earth with us, he got hungry. And he ate breakfast. And he no doubt combed his hair, and sweat when he worked hard, and needed to clip his toenails once in a while and did hundreds of other little ordinary things that you and I do each day.
We forget how like us Jesus is. And like us, he knows betrayal. Jesus knows what it feels like to be abandoned by his friends, to be disappointed by the ones you love most, and to feel let down. After all, he was betrayed by one of his twelve hand picked followers, the ones closest to him. He couldn't count on them to stay awake and pray with him on the hardest night of his life. He watched them all abandon him -- even deny that they knew him -- at his darkest hour. The suffering Christ endured on the cross for us was notonly a physical suffering. Christ had a broken heart.
That means he knows what your broken heart feels like. He knows the pain of being abandoned by friends, betrayed by loved ones, and let down by those you count on. These are, sadly, rather ordinary experiences of human life. And Jesus went through them. And that's pretty extraordinary.
Even more extraordinary is Jesus' example of forgiveness. "Do you love me?" he asks Peter three times -- once for each time Peter denied him. "Do you love me?" "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Peter replies. He is forgiven. Healing has been found. And Jesus takes this sinner, this man who publicly denied him, and makes him chief shepherd of his flock.
This is the example Jesus leaves us. "Forgive us our trespasses," he teaches us to pray, "but only as we forgive those who trespass against us." He wants us to be a forgiving people. If you have trouble forgiving someone who wronged you, ask Jesus for help. Ask for his mercy to flow through you and make up for what you are lacking. This does not mean being weak or letting people walk all over you. It means being merciful. It means not carrying hatred or bitterness in your heart. It means being extraordinary.