Tag Archives: Peter

Sermon – the Third of Easter, Year C

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Raphael – “Miraculous Draft of Fishes”

 

John 21 verses 1-19

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.

21:2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.

21:3 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.

21:4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

21:5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”

21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net to 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 because there were so many fish.

21:7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.

21:8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

21:9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.

21:10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.

21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.

21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

21:15 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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

21:16 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.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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.

21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”

21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

THE SIGN OF THE FISH

I’m off on holiday – yes AGAIN! – next Saturday: to Rhodes this time.

Usually, I just throw an assortment of mismatched clothes in a suitcase about an hour before I leave. But the one constant that I take is a pair of Nike sneakers…. you know: the trainers with the “swoosh” symbol.

It’s a logo that is recognised world-wide – a sort of tick shaped emblem.

Actually, it is supposed to represent the wing from the legendary statue of the Greek goddess of victory, who was called Nike (not “Nyk” as many folk pronounce it)

It is supposed to bring to mind victory on today’s so-called “battlefields” like gyms, and running tracks.

The most I’ll be running next week will likely be a bath! So out of condition – but I like my red Nikes.

Nike’s legendary Swoosh logo is probably one of the most recognisable in the sports industry, enabling us to see swift movement in its simple design.

That’s the way with so many signs and symbols these days – simple but effective.

Think of a golden “M” shaped arch – you don’t have to guess for even a couple of seconds to work out that one.

A three pointed star in a circle – Mercedes Benz

An apple with a bite out of it – iPhones, iPads, iPods…. and I (sic) don’t know what else.

However, the most famous and instantly recognisable symbol of all is ……. the Cross.

Although the Cross is displayed in endless varieties – plain, crucifix, Celtic, wooden, metal, palm (as we often have in church on Palm Sunday), as jewelry, tattoos, atop church spires ….. it is immediately recognisable as a symbol of Christianity.

Yet, when the Church began, it would have been more likely that our forebears in the Faith would have been recognised by fellow believers through the sign of the FISH.

Sorry to return to talking about holidays again, but a few years ago, my late wife and I spent an amazing few hours at the wonderful site at Ephesus.

{Incidentally, there is there an ancient piece of graffito scratched into a rock with the Greek name “Nike”

The tour guide asked if anyone knew who Nike was, and an American in our group answered “Say, isn’t “he” (!) the god of sportswear?”}

Anyhow, in many other places, in the ancient walls and pavements, there are etched into the stone tiny simple cross shapes, as well as more elaborate chiselled almost Maltese-style ones.

But …. as common were engravings of the word ICHTHUS – the Greek for “fish”

For the early Church the fish logo was very prominent indeed. It appeared frequently in the early Christian world up until the end of the fourth century.

It would be logical at this point to explain why the fish symbol was important, but I’m going to put it to one side just now, and come back to it later.

I want us to think about this instead just now:

Have you noticed how many times there are references to fish in the Gospels?

Right at the beginning of the story, we find Jesus among fishermen, and from them he selects his first disciples…… to be “fishers of men”

When Christ wants to feed the crowd in the desert – through Andrew, a fisherman, of course – he finds a boy with five loaves and two fishes.

And the fish, along with bread, was associated with communion in the early days of the Faith.

(The symbol can be seen in the Sacraments Chapel of the Catacombs of St. Callistus. Because of the story of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, the fish also symbolized the Eucharist.)

When Christ tells his disciples to have some trust in the Heavenly Father, he asks them, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”

In addition, in Mediterranean countries, the fish was seen as the symbol of good luck, and it still is in some New Year customs.

Christ, of course, ushered in a New Age – would not the fish be an appropriate sign for what he represented?

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Let’s now look at our Resurrection narrative for this Sunday. It’s about fish and fishing.

Here are the disciples back to the old business – fishing. They’ve been out all night and have caught nothing. On the shore is someone whom they don’t recognise. He instructs them to cast out the net again starboard-side. And there follows an incredible catch.

Jesus, then, takes bread and fish, and – sacramentally? – feeds them.

Is it any wonder that the fish became an emblem of faith for these first believers?

Before we take this any further, let’s ask if the sign of the fish can speak to us in this day and age.

How about this? Perhaps it’s indicative of the sheer earthiness and practicality of the Gospel.

Fish was a vital part of the economy of Christ’s society. Jesus didn’t go down to the lakeside to find as his followers some romantic sportsmen. He went right into the heart of the community – right to the centre of local industry. He walked straight into the practicalities of life.

After the highs of Easter Day, we’re back to normality now; back to the everyday stuff of normal life.

But…. Christ is STILL with us – with us in all the experiences of life.

He’s with us in the hungry who need to be fed, with the homeless who need shelter, the sick and the marginalised who need our compassion. “as you did it for the least of these my brethren” he says, “you did it unto me”
Let’s think of this too – the fish represents vitality. Have you ever watched a trout, for example, darting from stone to stone in a rippling stream?

It’s so alive – in its natural environment. Could that not be an image of the Christian living in the grace of God?

New Christians were plunged into the waters of baptism, and they began to see their life from then on as one sustained and supported by this symbol of God’s grace.

{note: the Latin word for a baptismal font is “piscina” – literally a fish pond. Converts to the Faith were called “little fish” (Latin: “pisculi”)}

May we always live as if we are alive in God’s environment of love.

Now, to the main reason for Christianity and the symbol of the fish. Something, I guess, all of you have heard about before.

And, when I attended Church in February in Port of Spain in Trinidad, the minister preached for almost half an hour on the meaning and symbolism of the fish…… oh, dear – perhaps twenty minutes too long.

 

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But, fear not! This is it in condensed form:

In Greek, the word for “fish” is ICHTHUS. – it can be an acronym – each Greek initial letter spells out the word – translated – “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”

{Iesus Christos, Theou Uios Soter}

A powerful and secret symbol shared between believers – and a reminder of their Creed.

This is the faith by which Christ’s Church has lived for some two thousand years.

Yet Jesus is never referred to as “The Great Fisherman”; rather as “The Shepherd of the Sheep”

And in today’s passage the Book of Revelation, he is called the Lamb.

And Peter, the big fisherman, is charged (in the second part of today’s Gospel passage) to be a pastor, to feed the sheep.

Peter, like Paul (in today’s Scripture Reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles) is changed by Christ into a new man. Both are given a new task and a new opportunity.

This was only possible because of the Cross, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The fish may be a fascinating sign, but the Cross is a much more potent symbol.

It speaks to us of grace, of love, of sacrifice, of forgiveness.

It is not in the symbol of the fish we glory, but in the Cross of Christ – towering o’er the wrecks of time.

Do we believe enough to identify with Christ’s Cross – through what we believe and do and say?

So that those with whom we interact, will not need any secret sign or veiled clue as to whose we are and whom we serve and who we are ………

……. followers and disciples of the great Shepherd of the Sheep, the Lamb of God, and the one who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

 

 

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Doubting Thomas

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July 25, 2014 · 11:08

Kinda Fishy

Kinda Fishy

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May 23, 2014 · 18:05

Christology

Jesus said, Whom do men say that I am?

And his disciples answered and said, Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias, or other of the old prophets.

And Jesus answered and said, But whom do you say that I am?

Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being co-equal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple.”

And Jesus, answering, said, “What?”

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Doubt

Doubt

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July 30, 2013 · 15:31

You are Peter and on this Brick…..

lego

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April 24, 2013 · 08:13

WOULD THE REAL J.C. PLEASE STAND UP

An eight-year-old was asked to write a homework essay with the title ‘Explain God’ This is what he wrote:

One of God’s main jobs is making people.  He makes them to replace the ones that die so there be enough people to take care of things on earth.

He doesn’t make grown-ups, just babies.  I think because they are smaller and easier to make.  That way, he doesn’t have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk.  He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

God’s second most important job is listening to prayers.  An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times besides bedtime.

God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this.  Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.

God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps him pretty busy.  So you shouldn’t go wasting his time by going over your mum and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.

Jesus is God’s son.  He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn’t want to learn about God.  They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him.

But he was good and kind like his father and he told his father that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK.

His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth, so he told him he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore.  He could stay in heaven. So he did.  And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which

are important for God to take care of – and which ones he can take care of himself, without having to bother God.  Like a secretary – only more important.

That’s an eight year old’s perception of who God and Jesus are and what they are like.

 It’s a misconstrued perception, but, sadly, such warped descriptions aren’t restricted to children.

 Many adults too have a false impression of who Jesus is.

 Jesus once asked his disciples who people think he is.  He was testing public opinion.

The answers ranged from John the Baptist to Elijah and Jeremiah or some other prophet.

But Peter, when asked, was able to give the answer to the puzzle of Jesus’ identity – and his answer should be ours also –  ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’

Jesus is Emanuel, God with us, the head of dominion in whom is full salvation and access to God.

He comes from God, is one with God, reveals his purpose, and leads humanity back to him.  He is what God intends humankind to become.

Jesus is about love and reconciliation.  He’s about broken lives and putting them back together again.

Jesus is about everything that is good and pure.

He looks at us as he did the disciples that day and says, “Who do YOU say I am?”

Jesus is not someone, who is easily defined, but when, with Peter, we acknowledge him to be the Messiah or Christ, we confess him as we have experienced him.

As we have experienced his compassion and his love.

For Jesus is love.

The real Jesus is someone who cares for us, who has compassion on us, who loves with a love divine all loves excelling; a love that made him sacrifice himself for the likes of us – yes, us, loveless and imperfect as we all are. 

When we have experienced that wondrous love, then we truly know who he is – “the Messiah or Christ, the Son of the Living God”

Who is the real Jesus?  Someone who loves us far more than we will ever understand.

As the old Hymn puts it –

Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to him belong

They are weak, but he is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

The Bible tells me so

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Forgiveness

“If someone offends me, how often should I forgive them?” Peter asked Jesus.  As if it were a rhetorical question, he answered for himself, “seven times.”  That must have seemed like a rather generous offer to him.

Jesus answers with a surprise, “No, but seventy times seven.”  He didn’t mean by that four hundred ninety times.  Using a large number was to say, “as many times as it takes.”

Forgiveness is spiritual work.  Certainly to forgive someone does not necessarily mean that we must subject ourselves to repeated mistreatment.

A villager said to his priest:  “My neighbour slapped me. Should I forgive him?”

“Yes,” answered the priest.

“How many times should I forgive my neighbour?” the villager asked.

“How many times did he slap you?” asked the priest.

”Once,” came the answer.

“Then forgive him once,” said the priest.

“But what if he slaps me fifty times?” the villager asked.

“Then you should forgive him forty-nine time,” came the answer.

“Why only forty-nine times, if I were struck fifty times?” the villager asked.

The priest:  “Freely accept he fiftieth slap.  You would deserve it for being such a fool to allow yourself to be slapped the first forty-nine times.” 

Nonetheless, forgiving another is spiritual work.  When you have the opportunity to forgive someone, you have the opportunity to deny yourself.   You have the opportunity to let go, to let go of control, to let go of anger, to let go of revenge, to let go of pride, to let go of ego.

A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.

“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.

“Yes.”

“Well, I haven’t.  I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”

“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”

Forgiveness may not always be easy – but it comes with the religion to which we subscribe, the God whom we worship, & his Son whom we follow.

 

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St Peter interviews three new arrivals

The story is told about Peter interviewing three new arrivals in heaven.

Peter, you see, was deeply concerned about religious literacy and he had become convinced that Christians were arriving with little or no knowledge of their faith. Turning to the first of the three new arrivals, he asked, “What does Christmas mean to you?”

The new arrival responded, “Santa comes down the chimney and leaves gifts. We have a big family dinner and we all have fun.”

Disappointed, Peter turned to the second arrival, “What can you tell me about Easter?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” the second arrival responded, “the Easter bunny hides eggs, we have a big family dinner and everyone has fun.”

Now, convinced that things were really very bad, Peter turned to the third arrival and said, “Can you tell me anything more about Easter?”

To which the third arrival responded, “It’s the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.”

“Go on,” Peter said, suddenly encouraged.

Eagerly the new arrival added, “And when Jesus comes out of the tomb, if he sees his shadow, we have three more weeks of basketball.”

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