Easter 3 C - Homily and Stories

Introduction to the Celebration 

We have gathered to celebrate the presence of the risen Lord among us. We are called to be the people who bear witness to his victory over death. We are the people who proclaim the Father’s forgiveness to the ends of the earth by being people who are for giving.

Michel de Verteuil

Text comments

During Easter the Sunday and weekday gospel readings are taken from St John’s gospel; this is the time of year when the Church invites us to meditate on this gospel. St John is always very deep; traditionally his is known as “the spiritual gospel”; these weeks should therefore be a time for us to deepen our meditations.

The passage for this coming Sunday is rather long and is a collection of different incidents. You will have to decide which of these to concentrate on. To get the full force of the passage remember that these incidents are told as if Jesus had not yet appeared to the disciples after his resurrection.

Verses 1 to 8 tell us the story of the miraculous catch. It is symbolic of what happens to us when we have experienced death and then experience resurrection. You might, however, prefer to concentrate on the role of Jesus.

Verses 9 to 14 are another story of a resurrection experience; here the stress is on Jesus welcoming the disciples.

In verses 15 to 17 Jesus welcomes Peter back into friendship with him. The connection between loving Jesus and feeding his sheep is significant.

Verse 18 is a word on the destiny of Peter which is the destiny of all who live long in the service of a cause.

There is a story of Peter running through the passage which you might like to look at, identifying with this most likable character; you will find this story in verses 2, 7, and 11.

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John Littleton

Reflection

Jesus appeared to his disciples many times after his resurrection from the dead. On those occasions, they did not always recognise him initially, but when he spoke to them they were able to identify him as ‘the Lord’ (John 21:7). Among the locations where he appeared to them were the garden, the upper room, the road to Emmaus, the hillside and the lakeshore where they had gone fishing.

Jesus’ appearance on the lakeshore was particularly important because he tested Peter’s faith by asking him three times: ‘Do you love me?’ (John 21:15). This persistent questioning by Jesus paralleled the three times Peter had denied Jesus in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house on the night before Jesus was crucified.

When Peter answered ‘Yes’ each time to Jesus’ question, he was effectively undoing the damage done to his relationship with Jesus by the earlier denials.

Peter had not been a loyal friend to Jesus when Jesus needed him. He revoked his commitment to Jesus and deserted him, choosing instead the cowardly option of denial so that he could not be implicated as one of Jesus’ followers. On the lakeside, after the resurrection, Jesus offered Peter a second chance. Jesus was not interested in the past because he had already forgiven Peter. All that mattered was the sincerity of Peter’s love. Peter’s threefold profession of love was a sign of the new quality of his faith and a renewal of his commitment to Jesus.

Significantly, on the basis of Peter’s profession of love, Jesus invited Peter to follow him again and he commissioned Peter to feed and care for his flock. Peter would lead the disciples and the early Church with the assurance of Jesus’ constant presence and guidance. Central to Peter’s mission (and, indeed, the mission of his successors, the popes) was the task of teaching the truths that are essential for salvation.

Eastertide offers us a chance to prove our love for Jesus by renewing our commitment to him and his teaching. Genuine love involves much more than romance and sentimentality. In addition, it often entails sacrifice and suffering, It demands faithfulness to God, our friends and our responsibilities. Our love for other people flows from our love for God. Love requires dedication to loved ones in every situation and all circumstances. This was exactly the kind of love that Jesus required from Peter. It is the kind of love that Jesus requires from us.

So often we fail to recognise the presence of the risen Jesus in our lives and in our world. Surely this is due to our lack of faith and our sinfulness. Before Jesus appointed Peter to a pivotal role within the Church, he tested Peter’s faith. Our ambition as Christians must be to aspire to true faith and real love of God, especially in an increasingly amoral and secular world. Like Peter, we must be able, truthfully, to say: ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you’ (John 21:17).

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Thomas O’Loughlin

The notion of the presence of the risen Christ in the church as his forgiving presence appears in several ways in today’s readings and prayers. This notion of being forgiven can be highlighted by using the Easter form of the Asperges (Missal, p. 388).

Homily Notes

1. Luke, both in his gospel and in Acts, has a picture of the world as made up of concentric rings. At the centre is Jerusalem (the holy city where the Lord has chosen to dwell), then the surrounding countryside and region (the land of the chosen people), and finally the lands beyond this again (the lands of the nations). He sees the witness that Christians must bear to the victory of Jesus over death, and so the forgiveness of humanity, as spreading out through these rings starting from the centre. It is like the ripple effects in a pond.

2. Our attempts to build a world of peace and goodness tend to fail as we give up on plans as useless: ‘What’s the use? It’ll be all the same no matter what we do!’ This forgets the incarnational dynamic of action: we may think global, but we act local. The Lord came to save humanity as one human in one place at one time. His impact ripples outwards in time and space — from one man in Palestine it has now touched each of us. The place to seek for peace is at the centre of our own lives, then in our immediate personal world, then in the world that touches our lives, and then beyond. We make our impact where we can and then let the ripples spread outwards. Do not despair at the dark clouds and the seeming impossibility of peace and justice, but act with justice in a single case in one’s own life and avoid surrendering to the darkness. 
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From Charles Irwin:


On October 29, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School, the school in which he was educated as a boy, in order to give a graduation speech to the students. The war with Germany was going badly. The German Luftwaffe was engaged in its blitz of London, and England was preparing for a Nazi invasion of the British Isles. Churchill’s speech there at Harrow was one of his more famous speeches. In it he said:
 
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
 
During World War II Churchill was seen as “The British Bulldog,” a leader with unbounded determination and steadfastness. After the war his detractors depicted him as merely stubborn; his virtue morphed by his political enemies into a vice. The British electorate voted him out of office in the late 1940’s and sent him out to pasture.
 
Many of us have faced and suffered from such unfair judgments. Some people regard us as loyal, constant and steadfast friends. Others think of us merely as stubborn, inflexible and unable to adapt.
 
The most difficult critic each one of us must face is our own selves. How do we see and judge ourselves? Surely it is good to be determined and steadfast. Surely it is good to hold to singleness of purpose and never lose sight of our principles and ideals. But just as surely it is good to adapt, to be willing to listen to reason, and to change course when necessary without compromising our principles. The problem, of course, comes in distinguishing between the two.
 
This is, of course, different from merely “giving up” in order to be popular and pleasing to others. Giving up is surrendering to weakness or even despair. Do we give up merely in order to take the easy way out? Do we give in to despair? The temptation to give up comes to us in many forms on a number of occasions, sometimes appearing to us as a good thing to do.
 
Giving up can be the work of the devil. Giving up was found in each one of the three temptations Satan presented to Christ when He was out in the desert preparing to embark upon His public ministry. Giving up was the last temptation Satan hurled at Jesus as He hung dying on His cross. Giving up can come at the cost of losing our very souls.
 
Another form of “giving up” is when we give up on others. I’ve known parents, and you have too, who have simply given up on their children. We’ve known spouses who simply gave up on their marriages without going through the effort of counseling and working for reconciliation. We’ve all known family and friends who have given up on the Church, or on religion, or on their spirituality, or even on God.
 
God, however, never ever gives up on us… even when we’ve turned our backs on Him or betrayed Him. That’s what today’s gospel account is all about.
 
Here we find Jesus encountering some of His disciples after His resurrection. The encounter is situated on water’s edge, reminding us of the waters of chaos in the Book of Genesis from which the Creator brought out order, creating all things, and eventually creating us from the slime of the earth. The waters of the Red Sea, the waters of the River Jordan, and the waters of baptism are all hinted at by this location.
 
The disciples were all gathered there together on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came to them in their midst, foreshadowing how He would come to us thereafter. There were overtones of the Last Supper there, along with all future celebrations of the Eucharist.
 
It was in that encounter that Jesus asked Peter those three famous questions, questions that obviously recognized the triple denial of Peter during Christ’s passion. Implicit in those questions, however, was the fact that Jesus had not given up on Peter. Jesus’ love for him and commitment to him were still there, even after all that both He and Peter had gone through. After all, we must remember, Peter had not just hurt Jesus, he had betrayed Jesus!
 
We need to reflect on what might have happened had Judas not despaired and had stayed with Peter and among the Twelve Apostles. Would Jesus have forgiven Judas? We know, of course, that He would have. It was not Jesus who had given up on Judas, it was Judas who had given up… given up on Jesus and given up on himself.
 
The entire bible, from beginning to end, presents us with the truth that God offers Himself to us and then waits for our response. The most marvelous and awe-inspiring truth lying deep within is that God has offered Himself to us and will never withdraw His offer! His love is everlasting and His mercy endures forever. His love and His commitment to us stay forever, no matter what sort of disgusting and horrific sins we may have committed. God never, ever, gives up on us. Any “giving up” is on our part, not God’s.
 
“Unconditional love” is something we’ve all heard about. Theologians tell us of God’s unconditional love. Unconditional love is something we want to give to our children, our spouses, and our family members. We all, however, have our moments when we’ve abandoned unconditional love and slapped others with conditions on our love, telling them we’ll love them or forgive them “if…” Each one of us has our own set of “if’s”. And, to be honest, we all must admit that we have had our moments when we’ve felt that unconditional love is impossible for us to give.
 
Which is why we need to seek God’s forgiveness… not simply to save our own skins but so that we, in His forgiveness, might have the power to forgive others as He has forgiven us… so that we will not give up on them. Without God’s power unconditional love is most likely impossible. But with God’s love and power, all things are possible… even loving others unconditionally… even not “giving up” on them.
 
Maybe, in the last analysis, we should all stand before God as Peter did. Maybe we should all stand in his shoes… and have his power to forgive… the power that Jesus gave him… there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

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Prayer reflections

Lord, we remember with gratitude our resurrection experiences:
* our marriage, or a deep friendship, had collapsed,
* a movement we believed in had broken up because of internal feuding,
* we had unexpectedly lost our job.
We went about our daily tasks, but without enthusiasm, just going through the motions,
like Simon Peter saying “I am going fishing” and the others answering “We’ll come with you.”
Nothing worked; it was a case of going out in the boat and catching nothing all night.
Gradually, however, as the weeks went by, a little light appeared,
an inner voice told us that it was time to try again.
And suddenly things began to come right,
there were so many fish we could not haul them in.
We know now that the inner voice was your presence within us,
a presence that never fails us even though we don’t always recognise it at first,
like the disciples not realizing that it was Jesus standing on the shore.

Lord, send us leaders like Jesus who, when people are struggling,
do not harangue them, but stand alongside and offer advice so discreetly
that the people do not know they are there,
but it turns out to be just the right word,
and the people once more discover their creativity.

Lord, we thank you for people who have forgiven us,
not a mean or calculating forgiveness,
not harping on the ways in which we wronged them,
but forgiving with the forgiveness of Jesus,
so that it was like coming back from a hard night’s work
and seeing some bread there and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it
and the very person we had hurt saying “Come and have breakfast,”
and we not having to ask any questions
because we knew that everything was forgiven.

“The best dreams of humanity are born in the night.”   Elie Weisel
Lord, we thank you for the great achievements that grew out of times of suffering:
* the courage of the Jews during the Holocaust,
* the creativity of slaves in the last century,
* the non-violence of those who fought for civil rights in the sixties.
They were the huge catch of fish the disciples made,
so many that they could not haul them in.

Lord, we pray for those who train minister in your church.
Teach them to call these future ministers to them as Jesus called Simon Peter,
asking them, do they love Jesus?
And not to be satisfied with asking them once, but to ask three times
Even if this upsets them,
Because it is only if they have a personal relationship with Jesus
That they are fit to pasture his sheep.

Lord, we pray for those who are getting married at this time.
Remind them that their commitment is for ever,
and that at one time in a relationship we are strong and walk where we like,
but another time comes when we have to stretch out our hands for help
and let the other person take charge of us,
even taking us where we would rather not go.

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ILLUSTRATIONS: 

1. Let's begin with Simon out on his boat fishing alongside the other disciples. He is brooding, thinking deep thoughts not quite sure what to make of all that had happened. Then there is a flashback. He recalls how some months earlier he left his fishing nets at the seashore to become a follower of Jesus and how Jesus liked him and included him and changed his name from Simon to Peter (Petros, the Rock) because Jesus felt that Simon was strong, stable, and solid like a rock. But then all of a sudden, things turned sour. Jesus was arrested and Peter the Rock got scared and on that fateful night, he denied his Lord three times. 

The next day, Good Friday, Jesus was nailed to a cross and Simon Peter was devastated, shattered, defeated, and broken hearted. But then came Easter and Simon Peter was at one and the same time thrilled beyond belief, excited, and gratified over Christ's resurrection and yet confused and perplexed about his own future. 

Peter returns to Galilee with his friends. Several days pass and nothing has happened. Here is where our scripture of the morning, John 21, picks up. Simon Peter and his friends have been waiting there in Galilee for some time just waiting, waiting for some direction from God, but nothing has happened. Finally in typical fashion, Simon Peter gets impatient. He can't take it anymore, and he says, "I'm going fishing!" Now it's as if Simon is saying, "I can't handle this any longer. This waiting is driving me up the wall. I'm worn out with the indecision, the waiting, the risk involved; and I'm going back to the old secure life, the old life of being a fisherman." The others go along with him.

They fish all night, but no luck. But then as dawn breaks, they see someone standing on shore. It's the Risen Lord, but they don't recognize him at this point. He tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They do, and they bring in a huge catch of fish: 153 large fish. John turns and says to Peter, "It is the Lord." Simon Peter excitable and impulsive dives in and swims to shore urgently. The others come in on the boat. As they come ashore they see the Risen Christ cooking breakfast for them over a charcoal fire. After he serves them breakfast, he takes Simon Peter off to the side and three times he asks him the same question: "Simon, do you love me?" "Oh yes, Lord," Simon answers. "You know that I love you." "Then, feed my sheep," the Risen Lord says to him. "Feed my sheep."

Then the story ends exactly the way it started months before with Christ saying to Simon at the seashore these words, "Follow me!"...

2. Lamps: 

Every large city has a store in which there is nothing but lamps - hundreds and sometimes thousands of lamps. Some are antique, some are new. Some are plain, some are ornate. Some of them unplugged. Some of them are plugged in and showcasing their light.

 One day a little girl was asked by her mother which lamps she liked best. "I like best the ones where the light shines out."  

There are over 300,000 Christian churches in the US. Some are antique, some are new. Some are plain, some are ornate. Some are not plugged in. And some of the ones plugged in keep their light mainly to themselves.

God likes best the ones where the light shines out.

But what does it mean to shine out the light into a world like ours?

What is North Korea going to do next? If you live in South Korea, or Austin, Texas, you are following every move of another "Little Kim" other than Kim Kardashian.

How do we shine the light in a world frozen by fear, flawed by distrust and fractured by dissension, a world every day helplessly teetering on the edge of disaster?

 But this was the world of the first century. It was the world the first disciples of Jesus faced. It is also the world faced by all of Jesus' twenty-first century disciples...
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3. Important to Repeat 

I was an 8th grade teacher at Floyd Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. A group of teachers were waiting in a room to play the students in a basketball game. I remarked to my principal, "You know what I have discovered about teaching? 50% of teaching is repeating directions." My principal shot right back, "What did you say?" I said, "50% of teaching is repeating directions."

The laughter of other teachers helped me to get the joke, and I laughed with them.

Anyone working or living with children knows that messages, directions, orders, everything has to be repeated multiple times before anything seems to register. Has anyone ever taken out the garbage after being asked only once? How many of you children clean your rooms after one invitation? How many of you write thank-you notes after only one entry in the "Things to Do" list you make up every day?

But instructions aren't the only things we need to hear more than once in order to take them to heart. In order to survive and thrive we all need to hear someone say to us, "I love you." And it needs to happen more than once a year. For some of us who have weathered the hurts of broken relationships, saying, "I love you," for the first time again is one of the most frightening things we will ever do.

David Beckett, Just Say, 'I Love You'
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4. Keeping the Wheels Turning 

Years ago, preacher friend Stan Bailey sent this story around in his church newsletter. It's a story about a visitor to a heavy-duty grease factory. He says the visitors were ushered into a large room and a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory, with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, packaging-incredible activity.

As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, "I didn't see a shipping department." The guide responded, "Well, we don't have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning."  

Brother Stan concluded:  

Friends, the Church is the best lubricated grease factory in all of history. What's missing is the shipping department. The church does not exist for itself; it exists to bring others to a commitment to Jesus Christ. 

John E. Harnish, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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5. Humor: 153 Fish 

It is so easy to get caught up in trivial interpretations of scripture and miss the point.

Take a look at John 21:11: "Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn." Now, why in heaven's name was there 153 fish? Have you ever wondered about that? No? Well others have.

Cyril of Alexandria in the 5th century said that the 100 represented the fullness of the gentiles, the 50 symbolized the remnant of Israel and the three of course was there for the Trinity.

Augustine's theory (5th century) was a little more complicated. He said, there are 10 commandments and 7 is the perfect number of grace and that's 17 right? Now if you add all the numbers from 1 to 17 together, you know 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 all the way up to 17 you'll get 153. And not only that but if you were to arrange them with 17 fish in the first row, and 16 in the next row, and 15 in the next row, all the way down to a row of 1 you get a perfect triangle which of course symbolizes the Trinity.

Jerome, he also lived in the 5th century, suggested that there were 153 different types of fish in the sea and it was symbolic of the church reaching all the people in the world.

Personally I have my own theory, want to hear it? I think that it's mentioned because there were 153 fish in the net. 

Here's another theory of mine: they had to divide them somehow, and so Peter being the Skipper he got 21% or 32 fish, and John being mate got 16% that's 25 fish, and the other five got 10.5% each or 16 fish.... 

You see we can get so caught up in really trivial stuff and miss the point that we need to be obedient to Christ, today. 

Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com, Adapted from the sermon "Live for Today" by Denn Guptill.
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6. What Do You Know?

Dr. Carlyle Marney was one of the great preachers in the South during the time after the Second World War. He was a mentor and role model to many pastors. One of the stories attributed to the rich legacy he left behind took place on a seminary campus where he was invited to be the speaker for a distinguished lectureship. One of the students asked, "Dr. Marney let us hear you say a word or two about the meaning of the resurrection." It was a fair question and an appropriate one from a future preacher to one who was already a great practitioner of the art of preaching. However the young seminary students were taken aback by Marney's response. Dr. Marney replied, "I will not discuss that with people like you."  

"Why not?" the students asked.  

Marney said, "I do not discuss such matters with anyone under thirty years of age." Marney continued, "Look at you! Just look at you. You are in the prime of your life. Full of talent and energy. Very few if any of you have experienced poverty, failure, defeat, heartbreak or a brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks. So tell me, what in God's name can any of you know of a dark harsh world which only makes sense if Christ is raised from the dead?"

Eric S. Ritz, The Ritz Collection, www.Sermons.com
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7. We should be thankful for our tears: They prepare us for a clearer vision of God.

William A. Ward
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8.  Chance to Wipe the Slate Clean 

Some years ago the London Daily Telegraph carried a letter written by an eleven-year-old boy to his mother while he was on vacation in Switzerland. He wrote this: "Dear Mom, yesterday the instructor took eight of us to the slopes to teach us to ski. I was not very good at it, so I broke a leg. Thank goodness, it wasn't mine! Love, Billy." Now, that mother had only a limited insight into what actually happened on the ski slopes of Switzerland that day. And you and I have only a limited insight into what happened on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that day. But one thing we know. Jesus asked Simon Peter "Do you love me?" three times. Why did he badger him so? Was it because Peter had denied his Lord three times and wanted to give him three opportunities to affirm his love and thus wipe the slate clean? I think that is so.  

Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com
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8. The Golden Hour 

Artist Bill Herring loves his home state of Texas. He sees beauty in the landscape, even in the dry desert ground and the dull, green bushes that squat along the horizon. Ordinarily, this landscape is dry and ugly. But then there comes what Herring calls the "golden hour." Sometime in the fall, these bushes bring forth gorgeous yellow flowers. Just before sunset, when the fading sunlight washes over the caramel soil and the lush yellow flowers, it lends everything a shimmering, golden glow. What once looked dull and lifeless, in the glow of the golden hour, takes on a whole new beauty.

This was the disciples' golden hour, the hour when everything would begin to fall in place for them. Jesus appears to them and challenges them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat--and the harvest of fish which they reap is beyond their wildest dreams. If there is one totally predictable theme in the Bible, it is this: blessings follow obedience. The disciples obey, and suddenly they catch a boatload of fish.  

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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9. Mixed Metaphors 

English professors love to catch the errors students make in their term papers, and they love nothing better than to catch mixed metaphors. The "friends and survivors" of Calvin College English department collected this list of mixed metaphors and posted them on their web site:

"He swept the rug under the carpet."

"She's burning the midnight oil at both ends."

"It was so cold last night I had to throw another blanket on the fire."

"It's time to step up to the plate and cut the mustard."

"She's robbing Peter to pay the piper"...
 

From Fr Tony Kadavil’s Collection of Stories

1) Do you love me?
There is a very tender and moving scene in the play, Fiddler On The Roof. Tevye and his wife Golda are being forced to move from their home in Russia. One day Tevye comes into the house and asks his wife, "Golda, do you love me?" "Do I what?" "Do you love me?" Golda looks at him and then responds: "Do I love you? With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town, you're upset, you're worn out, go inside, go lie down, maybe it's indigestion." Tevye interrupts and asks the question, "Golda, do you love me?" Golda sighs as she looked at him and says, "Do I love you? For 25 years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cows. After 25 years, why talk of love right now?" Tevye answers by saying, "Golda, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared, I was shy, I was nervous." "So was I," said Golda. "But my father and my mother said we'd learn to love each other, and now I'm asking, "Golda, do you love me?" "Do I love him?" Golda sighs. "For 25 years I've lived with him, fought with him, 25 years my bed is his! If that's not love, what is?" "Then you love me?" Tevye asks. "I suppose I do!" she says. "And I suppose I love you too!" he says. "It doesn't change a thing, but after 25 years it's nice to know." "Do you love me?" is the same question Jesus is asking Peter in the closing scene of the Gospel of John.
2) The value of a $20 bill:  
A well-known speaker began a seminar by holding up a $20 bill.  He asked the audience, “Who would like to have this $20 bill?"   Hands started going up.   He then said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?”   The hands remained in the air.  "Well,” he added, “What if I do this?”  He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe.  He picked it up, crumpled and dirty.  "Now who still wants it?” Still a few hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value.  It was still worth $20.     Many times in our lives, we feel crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel as though we are worthless.   No matter what has happened to us, however, we never lose our value in God’s eyes.   The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are, but from Him to whom we belong!  We are special – let us never forget it!  This is the lesson of today’s gospel, which tells us how Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of his Church, even though Peter had denied him three times.
3) Feeding lambs of the Secret Service:

The pastor grabbed the young man by the hand as he came out of the Church after the Easter Sunday Mass, and pulled him aside. "Young man," he said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!" The young man replied, "I'm already in the army of the Lord, Father." The pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except as Christmas Poinsettia and Easter Lily?" He whispered back, "It’s because I'm in the Secret Service of Jesus."
4) Feed my lambs in the attorney’s office:
A priest settled into a chair in a lawyer’s office. “Is it true,” said the priest, “that your firm does not charge the members of the clergy?” “I am afraid you are misinformed,” stated the lawyer. “People in your profession can look forward to a reward in the next world, but we lawyers have to take ours in this one.”
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Another Homily:

I have been told of a young man who periodically puts a few hundred dollars together. Then he invites some poor youngsters to join him on a day's outing at an amusement park. He puts the kids on the rides until they have had enough. Then he takes them into a fancy restaurant for a sit-down meal. One six year old pulled his face long enough out of his shrimp cocktail to ask his host, "Mister, is your name Jesus?"

When the curtain goes up on today's Gospel, the apostles are broke and hungry. Since many of them were fishermen, they did what comes naturally. Their supper was out there swimming in the Sea of Tiberias just waiting to be caught. But the fish proved to be much smarter than they and went on a holiday. The score was fish 11 and apostles 0.

They had spent the whole night on the water and they had caught nothing but a bad cold and a vile temper. As they headed toward land, the more hungry imagined they heard the fish laughing uproariously at them.

The sun had just risen gloriously out of the east. However, the men in the boat were not of a mind to enjoy it. Standing on the shore and checking the scene out stood the Teacher. None of them picked Him off. Why not? Perhaps a mist coming off the waters limited their visibility. Or very possibly the resurrected Christ was different in appearance than the one whom they had spent the last three years with. If affirmative, that does raise interesting questions about the appearance of our own risen bodies down the road.

Incidentally, I wonder how many times we have seen Jesus without recognizing Him. Remember the neighbor who brought you over a hot supper when you had a death in the family.

In any event, the stranger ordered them to drop their nets again. What is remarkable is that they obeyed him. Why remarkable? For openers, professional fishermen are smart enough to never, never throw their nets over the starboard side. Those were His instructions. And secondly dropping the huge 330 feet nets over the boat was almost a day's work in itself. These men were exhausted. They desperately needed sleep.

Once again, Jesus had woven a spell over people. It is the same spell incidentally that brings us to honor and worship Him today. His drawing power is explained in the poet's line: "The image of the Master, one glimpse and we are in love."

We all know the rest of the story. Hundreds of surprised and indignant fish were caught in the nets. It was impossible to get the nets back into the boat. After much back-breaking labor, they tied the nets to the large boat as best they could.

Courtesy of "the disciple Jesus loved," they knew now who their Benefactor was. When they came ashore, they saw that the Master was preparing their breakfast. With something approaching incredulity, they watched Him toast bread and roast their freshly caught fish over a simmering charcoal fire. They ought not to have been too surprised. He had told them often enough that you cannot tell people about God when their stomachs are empty. Perhaps you can understand better now why the Church has so many collections for the poor.

Just think about it for a moment! We are speaking here of the same Christ who has been saluted in music by people of genius. This is the very same Jesus about whom literally countless books have been written, world-class pictures drawn, and poems composed. This is the very same Saviour after whom countries and cities have been named. And, wonder of wonders, He consents to be a short-order cook and waiter for people who are hungry.

The next time you are asked to do something for somebody and you think it beneath your dignity, do me a favor. Reflect on this Gospel and then go out and do whatever the task is. You will find yourself in very good company.

But hurry! Every day TIME magazine estimates 40,000 children  - more than one every second - succumb to diseases linked to chronic hunger.

Would it not be wonderful if some day a six year old can look at us with large eyes over the shrimp cocktail we have just bought him and inquire, "Hey, is your name Jesus?"