“This is Grace”
This week the Gospel story brings us to the banks of the Sea of Tiberias and the excruciating reunion between Simon Peter and Jesus since the Crucifixion. It’s not the first time they’ve seen each other since the Resurrection; but it does appear that it’s the first time they’ve talked about the elephant in the boat. After feeding breakfast to those fishing that morning, Jesus asks his friend and disciple three times if he loves him and three times he has to say what he couldn’t say the night Jesus was arrested. “Yes, Lord I love you; yes, Lord I know you and love you.”
If we’re honest, it’s a hard story to live into. On the surface, in fact, it almost seems like Jesus is putting salt in the wound, causing Peter great hardship to relive what he had done; but it is not that. This is mercy. This is forgiveness. This is grace. And this is instruction of what to do with the pain. Jesus seems to be saying to his friend, “You cannot go back to fishing. You cannot build a memorial to your mistake. You cannot live a life of regret. Feed my sheep. Care for the poor. Welcome the stranger. Love your neighbor; and not because you are trying to earn back my love because the truth of it is, you never lost it.” Feed my sheep because we are to become the salvation we have been given. We use the mercy to give others what has washed over us. We love the way we have been loved, not for redemption but because of it.
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is not actually a Bible story but rather a fable. It goes that long after the crucifixion, long after the resurrection and the forgiveness, Jesus was fishing with Simon Peter, just the two of them, enjoying a quiet morning together. The disciple looks over at his rabbi and asks, “Hey Jesus, do you remember when we first met? I was fishing then too. You came by and I just knew you were the one to follow. You remember that?” And Jesus answered, “Yes, Peter, I remember.”
A few minutes pass and Peter asks, “Jesus, the water is so peaceful here; but I remember a time when it was a bit stormy. Do you remember the time you came walking on the water and everybody was so scared; but I got out to join you? Do you remember when I walked on water, Jesus?” And the Master answered, “Yes Peter, I remember.
Then a few more minutes pass. “Jesus, do you remember the night you were arrested? Do you remember how awful it was? Jesus, do you remember when I said I didn’t know you? Do you remember when I betrayed you?”
And Jesus turns to his friend and answers, “No, Peter, I don’t remember that at all.”
This week as you ponder this Resurrection story of Jesus and the true gift of grace, may you remember also the ways Jesus forgets. May the gift of grace move you into a life of grace.
You are the Light of the World!