An Enduring Friendship

Third Sunday of Easter

Simon Peter was an experienced fisherman who lived by the Sea of Tiberias, also called the Sea of Galilee. He knew the water well and where the fishing was best. It was there Jesus called him and his brother Andrew, and their friends James and John, to come with him. They left everything and followed him. One time Jesus was with them taking a nap in a boat in the middle of a storm. In a panic his disciples woke him and Jesus calmed the wind and the waves. Another time Jesus sent them ahead of him across the sea at night. And then he came walking toward them on the water. They were terrified and thought he was a ghost. Jesus called Simon Peter out of the boat to come to him on the water. Everything was fine until the wind picked up and Simon Peter began to sink. But Jesus took his hand and helped him back into the boat.

When Jesus was put to a horrible death by the religious leaders, the Romans, and the mob, Simon Peter was devastated like everyone else. He remembered that he had said three times that he never knew Jesus. Now his friend was dead and his heart was broken. When some people have a lot on their mind, they may want to talk about it with a friend. Or they may want to be left alone. When I have a lot on my mind, I take the dog for a walk, no thinking required. As I walk I breathe in the fresh air. Sometimes I lead the dog, sometimes the dog leads me. Simon Peter had a lot on his mind and thought he would go fishing. And that was exactly where Jesus would find him.

Jesus stood on the shore in the morning knowing Simon Peter would come back. They worked hard all night and caught nothing. The last thing he needed was advice on how to do his job from some stranger. “It is the Lord,” a friend whispered. With that he perked up. And after they came ashore with their great catch, after they had something to eat, Jesus took Simon Peter aside and asked him three times, “Do you love me more than these?” Maybe Jesus had to ask Simon Peter three times because he denied three times that he knew him. If your best friend asked you the same question three times, you know it’s serious. “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Saying we love Jesus brings with it very real consequences. “Feed my sheep,” he said. For Simon Peter that meant taking care of others so that the life of Jesus in them is nourished and does not die. But sheep can be stubborn and reject the care and the food the shepherd provides. Today young people, we welcome you to the Eucharistic Table for the first time. As with bodily food, we need to take the food regularly that nourishes our spirit so that God’s life in us does not weaken and die. Come to Mass and take Holy Communion each Sunday to nurture God’s life in you. Listen also to God’s Word in sacred scripture and help others generously and joyfully by showing them kindness, patience, and forgiveness. If we take care of God’s life in us, our friendship with Jesus will endure despite the trials and challenges we face.

As Jesus called Simon Peter he calls us to follow him. We will at times be tossed about in a storm at sea. Jesus can calm the storm. He might even invite us to walk on water. If we deny knowing him, he will not give up on us. But we will need to trust him and nurture his life in us.

“Come have something to eat,” Jesus tells us, inviting us to hear his Word and to receive the Bread that gives life. Welcome to the Table.

Rolo B Castillo © 2022

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