Friday, April 9, 2010

Charcoal Fires

The Gospel reading for Friday of the Octave of Easter -
"After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing." They said to him, 'We will go with you.' They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, 'Children, have you any fish?' They answered him, 'No' He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.' So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' Now none of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish" ~ John 21:1-14
In the rest of the story, Jesus has Peter undo his three-fold denial of Him by asking if Peter loves Him.
This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' A second time he said to him, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, 'Do you love me?' And he said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.' (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, 'Follow me.'" John 21: 15-19
 A few years ago, I wrote a poem about this series of events. I truly believe that we deny our own being when we deny Christ. But God is always ready to take us back. Only in our love of Jesus as the Risen Lord will we find success. Peter, though tested and failed, became stronger and was finally a martyr for his Risen Lord.

Charcoal Fires

Oh, Peter, weathered fisherman!
How much we are the same!
So clumsy in our love for Christ
So uncertain of our name. 
You stood beside the charcoal fire
To warm your doubtful heart. 
Hiding from yourself, 
You stood denying who you are. 
"I am not," you sadly said. 
In fear you turned away,
Rejecting Jesus and yourself
Until another day.
But, Peter, I remember
There's another charcoal fire 
That Jesus built upon the sand
To quench your fierce desire.
And now, when questioned by the Lord,
Upon the morning shore,
You said, "You know I love you" 
Like saying "I am yours."
And that is who we really are
In him we are set free.
His love and boundless mercy
Tell us who we are to be!
The first denial,  "I am not"
Is transformed by his death.
And in his rising, "I am yours"
Is acceptance in every breath.
If we’re open to His mercy
He will set our hearts aflame.
Then when He asks us, “Do you love me?”
We can answer without shame,
“I am yours.”

poem copyright by Theresa Sismilich

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