Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday in the Octave of Easter

I’m in my chapel praying the Mass. A number of prayer petitions have been sent to me, and for this I am grateful. I’m able to connect your personal prayers with the celebration of the Mass, Which connects me with the wider world of people in need.

Jesus meets us right where we are at, here and now, in our homes and apartments. In the gospel, he meets the apostles, on the seashore, as they were trying to fish by casting their nets. They were not successful, their nets were empty. It’s interesting, after the horrible realities of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, the one in whom they put all their hopes, they went back to their “ordinary” lives. But nothing, absolutely NOTHING, would be ordinary again, for their lives were changed in ways that they could never imagine. Once you’ve been touched by the mystery of God’s love in suffering and death, there is NO going back.

Jesus, Risen and ALIVE, is at the seashore and the apostles don’t recognize him. In grief, we rarely “see” reality as it is, for we are clouded by sadness and even emptiness. Well, Jesus is there to fill hearts and nets!!! Yes, he greets them, tells them to cast the net on the right side of the boat (not a political statement!!), which they do. The catch is so GREAT, the empty nets are filled with 153 large fish!!! I have no idea what “153” symbolizes and I don’t have my commentaries available. In any event, emptiness is transformed into fullness.

Empty hearts are meant to be filled to the brim and overflowing with God’s grace and love. We can’t go back to the way things were, the ordinary, that we knew before being touched by God’s presence. When relationships, careers, vocations move in and with God’s Grace, they change, yes, change, never remaining stagnant. Jesus meets us at the “shore” of our lives, asking us to give him the emptiness of lives and hearts, and he WILL fill them beyond capacity. After all, he is RISEN, alive, calling us to change how we “throw our nets” just so that they are filled beyond telling.

During this time of social distancing and remaining in our homes, we need to remember that eventually we need face to face, human encounters. Virtual celebrations of the Eucharist are great for this moment, but they must become temporary. There is no substitute for physical encounter. Let’s hope and pray, as restrictions are gradually removed, that we come to a time when we can truly be together, maybe wearing masks and keeping some distance. But we will be in the same room!!!!! I can’t wait!!

Fr. Frank