May 5, 2019 — Third Sunday of Easter
Our readings on this Third Sunday of Easter continue with lessons of hope for abundant new life in the Risen Lord. In fact, when we look at the Gospel Reading from John and compare it to the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we get a glimpse of the “before Easter Disciples” and the “after Easter Disciples” that offer inspiration for positive change in all of us.
In the Gospel, we find the Apostles dejected and discouraged following the death of our Lord. Poor Peter decides to throw in the towel on the whole disciple thing and go back to his old way of life, declaring, “I’m going fishing.” Upon hearing this, the other disciples follow him.
How easy it is for all of us to backslide on changes we have made in our lives, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives. We make a positive resolution — for instance to develop more patience or more discipline in our prayer lives — only to find our temper flaring in traffic or our hand hitting the snooze button instead of getting out of bed to pray. It makes us just want to forget it, to stop trying and go back to our old ways. Those very feelings of discouragement and lost hope make it even harder to try yet again.
But look how Jesus treats the disciples during their “backslide.” He is right there with them in the midst of it, already waiting for them on the shore when they come back from their unsuccessful return to the fishing business (after abandoning their mission as disciples). Our Lord greets them with such tenderness, gently asking, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” Then he gives them some fishing pointers, which lead to such a miraculous catch of fish that they finally recognize Him as the risen Lord. Wanting them to be at ease with Him, Jesus then feeds them breakfast. How gracious He is to them!
He is just as gracious today. When we find ourselves “out at sea” — discouraged by our failures or or for squandering the gifts God has given us, or simply by a lack of progress in our faith life, Jesus is with us! He is calling to us from the shore to come back to Him without shame or embarrassment, but with hope-filled trust in His steadfast love. He never tires of offering “do-overs” if we just keep returning to Him.
This constant process of turning back to the Lord is the essence of a stewardship way of life. Good stewards are not necessarily those who have mastered some perfect formula for the giving of time, talent, and treasure. They are those who continue to get back up after each fall, who are willing to continually reevaluate their goals and priorities as they aim for Heaven. Good stewards simply have more confidence in the goodness of the Lord than fear of their own failure.
And little by little, good stewards find themselves becoming like the “after Easter Disciples”, we find in today’s first reading, who were proud to be called before the Sandhedrin for “filling Jerusalem” with the Good News of Jesus.
Let’s allow ourselves to be renewed with Easter hope on our stewardship journey, secure in the knowledge that Jesus is walking alongside us each step of the way.