Weekly HomilyArchives

Friday, April 09, 2010

“Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (John 21:13-14)

“SOUL-SURFING” – April 18, 2010
Third Sunday of Easter
John 21:1-19
Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC

Backed up in the hospital cafeteria cashier’s line one recent morning, I waited impatiently to drop a few coins into the hand of the overly chatty new employee sitting at the register. While I could appreciate her friendliness to each patron in the line, I don’t think she appreciated the fact that the line was getting longer by the moment, and all these people waiting to pay for their breakfast fare were in a rush. This wasn’t McDonald’s, after all. This was a very busy hospital. “Come on, girl,” I whispered under my breath, “Stop the chatter and move things along!”

Coins getting sweaty in my hand as impatience built, I was nearly next in line when she engaged the fidgety nurse in front of me. Eyeing her name tag, the new cashier took the cue. “Wow! Your name’s Blossom! What a beautiful name! Where are you from?” The nurse smiled shyly as flattery trumped impatience, and answered in a drawl, “Well, thank you so much. I’m from a tiny town in Georgia.” Continued the cashier, “What’s it called?” Blushing a bit, the nurse responded, “Luthersville, population 783 at last official count.”

Moments later my turn came to pay for the rapidly cooling coffee in my hand. I guess the cashier was aware of my annoyance since she didn’t comment on my name or wonder about my origins. Anyway, retiring to a cafeteria table to await the arrival of a colleague, I pondered the cashier’s question, “Where are you from?” There are lots of ways to answer, but ultimately it’s “I’m from heaven.”

Indeed, it’s true. We’ve all come from the creating hand of God, and it’s our common destiny. It’s also true that we’ve all brought to earth from heaven something of the Creator’s infinite goodness, expressed in the multitude of ways we live in community and care for one another. We of the Christian faith believe that this divine embodiment enfleshed in humanity is first and foremost manifest in Jesus, the Son of God, who walks the earth still in every professing believer. We Christians believe that Jesus continues to touch the world with healing and nourishment through the work of our hands.

In the gospel passage we hear today, we encounter the risen Jesus appearing once again to the astonished disciples. After spending an exhausting night at sea fishing with little to show for their labors, Jesus appears to them just after dawn with a very good fishing tip. After hauling in the miraculous catch, he invites the exhausted disciples to join him at fireside for some breakfast. Then, as the gospel tells us, “Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (John 21:13-14)

But we further know from the gospels that the continuing appearances of Jesus are multitude. He continues to feed the hungry and heal the sick even to our own day through the hands and hearts of disciples just like us. The last verse of St. John’s gospel proclaims, “There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Indeed, were those books actually to be written, they would contain the stories of the gracious deeds of our lives, Jesus reaching into the hurts of our world through us, feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

This very topic provided the stage on a recent morning for a hilarious interchange between Linda, the charge nurse on one of our critical care units, and several of her fellow nurses. As Linda related the incident, she, her husband and Kim, their kindergartner, were dining out on Sunday evening with conversation centering on the next day’s adventure, parents’ day at school. Linda had taken the day off from work to accompany Kim to class where, in the course of the day, the students would introduce their parents to the other class members and their parents. Wanting gently to prep their daughter for the next day, Linda and spouse gently inquired what daughter planned to say about mom at school. Kim assured them that she was proud of her mom and what she did, taking care of sick people and all. Kim planned to tell the whole class about her mom. Linda beamed at the prospect.

Next day, Linda and Kim bustled off to kindergarten, both excited at what was ahead. As one after another of her classmates stood before the roomful, blushing parents were introduced, each mini-presentation concluding with polite applause. Then it was Kim’s turn.

Confidently taking center stage, Kim invited her mom to join her at the kiddie-size podium. Obediently Linda complied as daughter continued, “I want everyone to meet my mom. She has a real important job. She takes care of people all the time. When I grow up I want to help people just like my mom does. I want to be a waitress at Red Lobster.” As the class broke into applause, Kim took her seat while mom stood frozen at the podium.

As Linda related later to her hysterical nurse colleagues, “Those parents all thought I was a waitress at Red Lobster! No mention of nursing at all! I’ve never been so embarrassed in my whole life.” The gut-churning, snorting laughter from her friends was louder than the classroom applause of days before.

Healing the sick, feeding the hungry: it’s what Jesus did. It’s what we are to do. After all, just like Jesus, we have come from heaven and will soon return there. Meanwhile, it’s our life’s work to bring something of heaven to earth, healing, feeding, loving.

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