"Come, have Breakfast."
A reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
In Holy Scriptures, John 21:1-19, the storyline unfolds after Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. There was Simon Peter, Thomas (Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
Jesus could have berated Simon Peter that Peter fell asleep three times in the Garden of Gethsemane and then denounced Him three times, but Jesus, who is love and kindness did not go into this. Instead, Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being 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." He then said to him a second time, "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 distressed that he had said to him a 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. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." (NAB)
How would you feel tomorrow morning if Jesus was present at your bedside to ask you to come and have some breakfast? And what would we say to Jesus if He asked us if we loved him more than we love the world? Chances are He would have to ask it three times of us, too, before we'd give a clear and concise answer without any ambiguity and excuses.
Do you love Jesus? St. Bonaventure said that if we love Him, we do not sin. And, if we still sin, we do not love Jesus enough! I don't remember where that occurs in Bonaventure's writing, but a friend told me, and it made perfectly good sense at the time. It is something St. Bonaventure would have said. Do we really love Jesus, or do we have blind Faith without the action to go with it? Are we being truthful or are we just paying Jesus lip service? Don't ever lie to Jesus- He sees right through untruths. Such a lie was a painful moment when He was nailed to the Cross.
We're great at making excuses, aren't we? And I count myself right in that group of people. I was discussing my overweight with my doctor on an afternoon, and she asked if I was following my diet. I told her something to the effect that if I get depressed I eat, ice-cream in particular. I may have a couple of spoonfuls for lunch, some more mid-afternoon, and the rest of the box instead of dinner in the evening! Those are excuses, my friends. I could not at that moment state with certainty that I loved Jesus. Overeating like that is contributing to the slow death a body has to endure in a lifetime, and injuring oneself is sinful. And, the worst part of it is, I'll probably do it again, but I do not want to. I still love Jesus, but often, I do not love Him enough. Have you ever felt that way?
I love certain stories told be Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., that wonderful Franciscan who at his age (74) does more than several younger people would ever be able to accomplish, and he's not all that healthy. He's a great story-teller and this comes through in some of his lectures. I'd love to hear him in person but since I cannot manage to be in two places at once, that will never happen again.
Anyway, Fr. Benedict tells of his visit to the doctor for "his personal apocalypse." He tells that doctors love to generalize. He waits for his doctor to tell him how a test went, and the doctor states: "Yes, the test was positive" (Father wonders "positive" means "negative?"). Doctor continues: "With any luck you should be in the post-terminal stage .... Father responds.... 'post ... post.... post? - that's generalizations. And Father reminds his listeners that Pilate told Jesus that "it is expedient to put a man to death" - that too is a generalization. I think we all get the point. Father is great at acting out these kind of stories. Now the reason I mention all this is that we're talking about displeasing Jesus - and all of us generalize in our responses to Him. Just as I mentioned to the doctor this afternoon that if I feel depressed I eat - that's a generalization, and I know it doesn't wash.... Jesus is the great healer, and He will always listen patiently to our requests for better health - but we have to cooperate, too.
DO WE LOVE JESUS?
Not, if we do not trust him. Not, if we seek compassion in something else (food?)
Not, if we continue to sin without giving it any particular thought. People will tell you that if you are not aware that you are being sinful, then you aren't committing a sin, because sin takes an intention to do bad. We have to realize that we're wrong and do it anyway? Yes, that's correct. But I'll bet that half the time we know we're wrong and we quietly think God understands... he just has to. But then we're trying to put him in a box... and Jesus cannot be contained in anything, anywhere - He is the Son of God! He is God in the Second Person of the Trinity! God is everywhere and is everything to us, and how dare we contradict His perfect love for us? No, we dare not. I could say here: get with it folks - stop the excuses and obey God - but if I said that, I would be a hypocrite, because I am very imperfect. I'm a sinner, and so I am telling myself to obey God first.
I have been a monk for a short period of four years and three months. I led a cloistered contemplative life. I would still be doing that except that God had other plans. I experienced a stroke in 2002, and a wise Superior took that as a sign that perhaps I would be better of living by myself. My leaving was a mutual decision. In other words, I don't blame him (nor God). I have taken a Vow of obedience and chastity. Obedience is a hard nut to crack in a worldly life where there is so much temptation, but I take these promises very seriously, and maybe that's why people tell me often - don't you think you're a little too hard on yourself. I don't think so. Our Lord suffered so much on the Cross, I fervently pray: let that not have been for a broken Vow.
Through His death on the Cross, Jesus has made it feasible for us to be with Him for all eternity. That's a significant gift, my friends. Please, don't let Him down. .... and, do have breakfast with Him now and again!
May God's blessings be with you all day long.
Fred Schaeffer, sfo April 2007, 2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs