Sunday, April 14, 2013


...served all day, just like in the very best diners.

   Third Sunday of Easter   C 

A mother was making breakfast for her two young sons
when they began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
The mother saw an opportunity to teach them an important lesson.
“If Jesus were sitting in this kitchen,” she said, “he would say,
‘My brother can have the first pancake.  I can wait.’”
Which is when the older boy turned to the younger
and said, “Tommy, you be Jesus!”

With our busy and unpredictable schedules,
the one meal Fr. Tom, Fr. Stitt, and I
are most likely to eat together on any given day
is breakfast.
It’s generally a pretty simple event:
cereal or toast, milk and orange juice,
a warm, caffeinated beverage, 
the radio and morning newspapers.
About once a week, 
we try to “do it up” a bit more,
with bacon and eggs or pancakes.
But on very special occasions—
in particular, when we have company—
and there’s nothing too heavy on the morning’s agenda,
we like to have what we’ve taken to calling,
“High Pontifical Breakfast.”
High Pontifical Breakfast is eaten in the dining room
instead of in the kitchen.
I’ll make crepes, and serve them up on the nice plates.
We take the extra time to linger 
over a second cup of coffee.

There’s breakfast, and then there’s breakfast.

This Sunday, we hear Jesus say
some of the most ordinary, down-to-earth words
found on his lips anywhere in the gospels:
Come, have breakfast.
It was not a fancy affair.
No porcelain teacups. 
No linen napkins.
Just a little toast and some freshly grilled fish
shared among friends on the beach.

Anytime we find Jesus breaking bread in the Scriptures,
the Eucharist ought to come to mind—and rightly so.
This seaside picnic at sunrise,
like the multiplication of loaves for the thousands
or—of course—Jesus’ Last Supper with his Apostles,
has something to teach us about our regular appointment
for Sunday breakfast with the risen Lord.
He is here, really and truly, in his Body and Blood:
both the unseen Host who calls us together
and the abundant Feast that’s spread before us.

During these past several weeks,
we’ve had many celebrations centered on the Most Holy Eucharist
which have been marked by extra solemnity:
our liturgies of the Easter Triduum;
our devotions for Divine Mercy Sunday;
our Eucharistic procession marking the end of 40 Hours.
They’ve all been—to borrow the expression—
“High Pontifical Breakfasts” with Jesus.
With gleeming candlesticks and clouds of incense,
with ministers in flowing white robes and golden sashes,
with crowds of people singing out their praises
and kneeling in worship before the Lamb of God on his throne,
they’ve borne a strong—and purposeful—resemblance
to the visions of John in the Book of Revelation,
from which we hear during this Easter season.
One of you said to me that these rich and beautiful ceremonies
have been a “little taste of heaven.”
This is, of course, only “right and just!”
We ought to do our best for the One
who, in order to rescue us, gave his all.

But you can’t have High Pontifical Breakfast every day.

Which is why we mustn’t forget just how “ordinary”
is this third time when Jesus is revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
He’s come to see them at work.
Remember: these men were fishermen
before Christ called them to leave their nets and follow.
He’s come to visit with them over a simple meal.
It’s something which happened so regularly
during the years they’ve known him
that no one feels the need to ask, “Who are you?”
And Jesus has come to restore his relationship with them—
their leader, in particular—
at the moment when they’re feeling least worthy
to keep company with the Son of God.
Simon Peter doesn’t rush to cover his nakedness
because he’s suddenly feeling modest;
no, Peter, like Adam and Eve, covers himself
because he’s feeling ashamed:
ashamed, since the last time he saw Jesus,
he was publically denying three times over
that he even knew the man.  (cf. R. Barron)
As the Acts of the Apostles makes clear,
Peter will go on to prove beyond doubt the love he triply professes,
choosing to obey God rather than men
and willingly suffering dishonor for the sake of Jesus’ name.

We expect to encounter the risen Lord
in those exceptional ritual moments
which take place over the course of the Church’s calendar.
But Jesus also desires
to take part in the lives of his followers—then and now—
in ways not possible before his resurrection.
He’s constantly breaking through our locked doors.
He’s constantly appearing on life's beaches.
He wants to be with us, not only at Sunday Mass,
but in the middle of our daily lives—
in moments both great and small.  (cf. C. Jamison)
Allow Christ in, and the ordinary is transformed:
once empty nets are filled to the breaking point.

Let’s not be like those seven disciples on the Sea of Tiberius—
unable to recognize Jesus when he’s standing on our shores.
Instead, let’s live with eyes wide open,
fully expecting to see him here at church,
present in Sacrament upon our altars,
but also during breakfast at home,
sitting right across the kitchen table.

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