Reflections on the Readings
Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord - April 8, 2012 - Year B
By Dennis S. Hankins
Food for Thought
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him up on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. - Acts 10:39b -41
One of the tragedies of our time is the disappearance of the family dinner. It's a tragedy because it means we are not getting together as families. We are not sharing ourselves nor what is happening in our lives with those closest to us.
There was a time when the family meal happened every evening. The family would sit down together and fill up on some good home cooking. In between a mouthful of mashed potatoes and meatloaf the stories of the day were told.
Nothing compares with a family dinner and that special time together. At the family dinner table broken hearts are mended, dreams are shared, and the wisdom of another generation is digested as well as the apple pie from great-grandma's recipe.
Favorite meals and birthday dinners and anniversary celebrations all involve lots of food. I celebrated my birthday this past Wednesday in the company of my family. There was too much food and too much cake and ice cream. But there was laughter and pictures and cards and presents and we all ended the evening with full stomachs and even fuller hearts. And I can't wait for the next time.
Food is important in the ministry of Jesus too.
Do you remember when Jesus fed the multitude? Stomachs began to growl. The little children began to cry the same tune: "I'm hungry mommy!" The day was almost gone and most families had not packed enough. Mom and dad began to calculate how far they were from home. Thousands had borne the heat of the day feasting on every word that fell from the lips of Jesus. But words don't fill stomachs and now the growing rumble of empty stomachs got the attention of the disciples.
Peter whispers to Jesus, "Better send the folks back into town before the stores close. If they stay any longer we'll have to feed them."
"That's a great idea Peter. Why don't you facilitate that!"
"Why don't I do what?" Peter asks.
"Feed them!" Jesus invokes.
Peter roles his eyes in disbelief. "Two hundred days of wages would not buy enough bread to feed this crowd," Peter fires back as whispering has given way to exasperation.
Someone near by overhears the conversation. Peter, James, and John are working on a strategy. "Hey mister." A little boy tugs on Peter's garment. "You can have my lunch." Peter looks down into the biggest eyes of generosity he had ever seen. Reluctantly he accepts the five small loaves of bread and the two fish from the little guy.
"This is all we have, Master." Peter explains. And looking into the doubtful eyes of his right hand man, Jesus whispers, "It will be enough, Peter. Thank you."
Looking up to heaven Jesus blessed and broke the loaves, and divided up the fish among them all. When it was all said and done the disciples took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.
Jesus connected with the history of his people and the giving of the manna when they were in the wilderness. Jesus feeds these people who also are far from home. The twelve baskets signified the twelve tribes of Israel. As the twelve disciples pick up the leftovers, they begin to understand their calling to give the world the bread of life.
Peter became restless after the initial reports of the resurrection of Jesus and decided to go fishing. James and John and others joined him. The fishing expedition went on all night and they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus called from the shore, "Children, have you any fish?" Not knowing it was Jesus they answered him with a disappointed, "No."
"You'll find fish on the right side of the boat!" Jesus shouts. Did they not try that area of the lake at all during the night? Nonetheless they get a catch of fish they could barely haul in. It's then that John, the beloved disciple says, "It is the Lord." It could only be the same one they saw multiply the loaves and fish helping them to catch so many fish. As they approach land they see a charcoal fire with fish and bread lying on it.
"Have you had breakfast yet, fellows?" Jesus asks.
Jesus waits until Peter's stomach is full before he asks the question. Peter can feel the eyes of Jesus looking into his soul. The warmth of the charcoal fire is comforting. The gaze into his soul is disturbing.
"Do you love me, Peter?"
Just a few days before Peter three times denied any knowledge or relationship with Jesus. His mind wandered as he now hears Jesus asking for the third time, "Peter. PETER! Do you love me?"
There is no doubt that Peter is thinking about that morning when he tells Cornelius and his household about eating and drinking with the Lord after he rose.
Luke tells us about two disciples walking home to Emmaus. It's about seven miles from Jerusalem. It might as well have been a hundred, for they were walking home with long faces and troubled hearts. Together they talked and soon they are joined by another. The stranger inquires about their long faces and they respond with disbelief that a visitor to Jerusalem would be unaware of the events that transpired there in the last few days.
But before they know it this stranger is massaging their hearts with the story of their salvation. He explains from the scriptures all the things that Moses and the prophets and the psalms say about Christ and his suffering and his destiny and glory.
The day now is far gone and night will soon be upon them. They compel their new friend to stay with them. As their new companion takes his place at their table, he takes the bread and blesses it, and breaks it, and gives it to them to eat. And immediately their eyes are open and they recognize the Lord who is with them. He vanishes from their sight and they make haste to return to Jerusalem that very night to tell the others that they have seen the Lord.
They find the eleven gathered together who explain, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two from Emmaus take turns telling them what happened on the road and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Some food for thought.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com