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Come And Eat

[Reprinted with permission from Seeking His Mind: 40 Meetings With Christ by M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.]

In John 21:1-14, Jesus had sent a message to the apostles that they were to go to Galilee and wait for Him there. That made sense. Capernaum had become very much His home base, and it was hometown for a number of them. So off to Galilee they went. And waited. And got tired of waiting. Especially the ever up-and-at-’em Peter. "I am going fishing," he announced, and immediately they were all with him, out into the boat and out to sea.

It was one of those nights, though, when the fish seemed to have gone on holiday. Not a one came into their nets. At dawn’s early light a rather discouraged crew looked toward the shore. It was time to go home–empty-handed. It didn’t exactly help morale when a lone stranger (it was early and they had rather hoped to make it in without being seen) shouted across the waters: "You didn’t catch any fish, did you?"

A possible customer he might have been, but they were not interested in customers right then. An unambiguous "No" was their reply. And then came the strange advice: "Cast your net on the other side."

Was there, deep down in them, some vague echo of another day when they had heard similar advice? Or was it simply that a dejected crew was ready to give it one more try?

Soon the net was not just holding; it was almost pulling the boat down. What a catch! It did not take long then to put two and two together. The "disciple whom Jesus loved"–and who loved him–knew: "It is the Lord!"

Again Peter was up-and-at-’em. He couldn’t wait for the boat to pull in its great catch. He was already in the water and making for the shore.

And what did they find there? A charcoal fire and fish and bread slowly baking. Breakfast was on! This was the risen Lord, the one who had proved all his divine assertions without doubt, the Lord and Master. And yet he had gathered sticks, kindled a fire, and somehow found some fish and bread dough. He was fixing breakfast for his friends. Indeed, he himself served it, to each.

Things had not essentially changed. The divine was still a beggar for friendship. And, yes, there was that wonderful delicate touch: "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."

Jesus has risen. He has ascended. He sits at the right hand of the Father. He is the glorified Lord of heaven and earth. And yet He is still with us, until the end of time. He promised. He is here as a friend, a serving friend. And—what I find more wonderful—He wants us to participate, bringing the gifts he has given us, in serving His friends. It is a wonderful community of mutuality, his circle. A most caring Lord invites us all to join in the care.

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Come and eat! Jesus still says it: Come and eat me, come and eat the Eucharist, come and eat my word. But He doesn’t stop there. He says it to all the poor and needy; indeed, He says it to all of us as He gives us our daily bread. He endows us with all the goods of His creating. And He invites each of us to contribute to the feast, bringing some of the abundance we have been able to gather with his help to help him feed His friends, especially those most in need.

A Christian is certainly one who follows Christ, accepts Him as risen Lord and Master. And Christianity is built on friendship: Jesus calls us His friends. The Lord wants to share with us in a very human as well as divine way. An important part of that human sharing is our bringing to the gathering of friends a portion of what He has enabled us to have.

Come and eat! May the warmth, the caring, the tenderness of that day never be absent from our gathering about our risen Lord, who is ever in our midst.

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