Obey only God, Love and Serve! Third Sunday of Easter, 4/10/16

In today’s Gospel, John 21:1-19, we have the Risen Christ teaching us once again how to fish, and equating love and service. After Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples were lost and scared and went back to their old jobs of fishing. In order to fish for people they needed to know he was very much alive and it is not surprising that he instructs them again from the shores of Lake Genesaret,  the sea of Galilee where they first met. It has always been a wonder to me that Jesus asked for Peter’s love, not his professions or allegiance or beliefs but for his love as shown in service in “feeding the sheep,  ewes, and lambs” the men, women and children of the world.  We cannot claim to be Christians if we are full of right words but empty of love expressed in action for healing, justice and peace. It is love that transforms us and enables us to serve, even when the going gets rough as it did for Jesus. It is Love that brings us through suffering and death into life. It is love in relation and in prophetic obedience to our God that keeps us going and gives meaning to our lives. It is love that will bring on the kindom of God here and now so that we can fulfill Christ’s Messianic mission and our own reasons for being in this world. Cast the nets and bring on the love!

Below is Rev. Beverly Bingle’s inspirational homily for today. I love her point about the 153 fish as a count of all the types of fish known at the time, hence, the call is to bring in everyone with our loving service. Bring everyone , as Revelation 5:11-14 says, to cry out blessing and honor to our God-to live lives of compassion, mercy, peace and justice.. Bring everyone to change mourning into dancing (Psalm 30). And obey no one except God in preaching and living the Gospel as the first reading in Acts(5:27-32,40-41) tells us. This is particularly so for those who have been forbidden to accept God’s call to Holy Orders because they are women.  We echo Peter “We must obey God rather than men”. And being ordered to stop speaking of Jesus ,they “left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name”. Rejoice! Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP, Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

And now Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s Homily: 

When I read that passage from the Acts of the Apostles,
my first thought is
that things haven’t changed a whole lot in 2,000 years.
Religious authorities are still telling people—
telling laypeople and theologians and clergy
and especially women—
to obey them instead of obeying God.
Fortunately, as with those first disciples,
some folks these days stay faithful to God
by keeping on:
proclaiming the word,
getting excomunicated,
and staying in the church speaking out.
Others stay faithful to God by walking away.
Then I read that passage from Revelation
and hear that those voices crying out in praise are
“every creature in heaven
and on earth and under the earth and in the sea,
everything in the universe.”
But our Catholic hierarchy
continues to excommunicate the divorced who remarry
and LGBT folks who live in committed relationships.
They continue to require Mass prayers in antiquated language
unrelated to the spiritual experience of 21st century Christians.
And there’s a long list of people they have silenced
for applying Vatican II teachings
to theology and ecclesiology and spirituality.
And then there’s that passage we hear from John’s Gospel.
Scripture scholars agree that this chapter, Chapter 21,
was written later and added on to John’s Gospel,
which really ended at Chapter 20.
They agree that just about every detail in this appearance story
creates difficult problems
and leads to speculative adjustments.
For example, scholars notice that this passage says
it’s Jesus’ third appearance,
but it’s really the fourth one in John’s gospel.
Some of them think the author left out
Jesus’ first appearance to Mary of Magdala
because she was a leader in the early Christian movement
and the Johannine community
was arguing for Peter as the leader.
Others think they didn’t count Mary of Magdala
because, in that culture, the witness of women didn’t count.
Many scholars think that this fish story at the end of John’s gospel
comes from the same experience
as the story of the miraculous catch
at the beginning of Luke’s gospel.
In that light, it’s significant that both gospel writers
use the incident to teach about Jesus’ call to follow his way—
the call to discipleship.
And scholars agree
that the meanings in this passage are deeply symbolic.
Peter decides to go fishing, and his friends go along.
They catch nothing and they’re calling it quits.
Someone on the shore calls out to them: “Catch anything?”
That’s a commonplace experience
for anyone who’s ever gone fishing.
Back home in Fremont
in the hunting-fishing-trapping family I grew up in,
we were regularly out on the water or on the ice
catching supper.
When we arrived at a spot,
we’d call out to the fishers already there, “Catch anything?”
Or we’d get there first,
and the newcomers would call out to us, “Catch anything?”
We were talking about catching fish,
but Jesus is talking about catching people,
being “fishers of men,” as the synoptic gospels put it.
And the disciples, without Jesus, catch nothing on their own.
When he tells them to throw the net on the RIGHT side of the boat,
they take in a huge catch.
Those 153 fish are symbolic, too.
Historians say that 1st century folks
believed there to be 153 species of fish.
Jesus’ way catches everybody.
What follows the breakfast on the beach
is the dialogue between Jesus and Peter,
crafted to be parallel to Peter’s three denials in Chapter 18.
Peter professes his love for Jesus three times,
just as he had denied him three times.
Jesus’ response is to call Peter to discipleship:
Keep on feeding and tending my flock,
keep on following my way.
The call of the disciples, like all calls—all vocations—
is a call to love.
It’s a call to keep on.
Never stop.
Keep on learning and teaching and loving and serving.
It’s like people in love—
people with a vocation to companionship and commitment.
They never stop thinking about and talking about
and caring for their beloved.
It’s like the spouse of a victim of Alzheimer’s,
willing to suffer whatever is required
for the sake of the other.
It’s like Pope Francis
and the growing mass of people
who see earth as our common home
and will not be silent about our responsibility
to change our selfish and wasteful habits.
It’s like the prophetic voices within our Catholic Church:
following the way of Jesus;
following their consciences
in holy disobedience to unjust rules;
obeying God, not humans.
It’s like us, here, a gathering of Vatican II Catholics
serious about discipleship
and living lives of commitment to peace and justice,
the way Jesus taught.
We’re not alone.
Everywhere we go Jesus is with us.
Thanks be to God!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)


Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006


Let’s go Fishing!




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