May 1, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30:2-4, 5-6, 11-12, 13 (2a)
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-14 (15-19)

What is resurrection faith? While the sound of it might seem otherworldly and lofty, both the Scriptures and the experience of Christians down through the centuries suggest that resurrection faith is experienced and lived out in ordinary events that take place in ordinary places among ordinary people.

In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, the disciples have returned to their ordinary lives—you know, before their time with Jesus. No more were they huddled behind locked doors in Jerusalem, trying to process the news of the empty tomb. No, they were back home in Galilee, and they decide to go fishing for the night. Back to familiar surroundings and familiar activities.

After a long night of catching nothing, the disciples have an encounter with the risen One. This third appearance to the disciples in John’s Gospel takes place in the midst of their ordinary lives, away from Jerusalem, the Temple, and the crowds. In contrast to the intense joy they experienced when Jesus had earlier made himself known in their midst, now most of them barely notice as he calls to them from the beach. Only one among them recognized Jesus—the beloved disciple, the one who had a profound level of intimacy with Jesus, even resting on his breast at the Last Supper.

Resurrection faith—recognizing the risen One in the midst of everyday activities and routine—is grounded in a deep relationship that opens our eyes to his presence in unexpected places. For Christians today, that kind of intimacy is fostered through prayer and reflection on the Gospels.

As he had done throughout his ministry, Jesus meets the disciples in the place of their need: “Children, you have no fish, have you?” (Jn 21:5) It is surely no accident that this encounter takes place at the Sea of Tiberias, the same place where Jesus had satisfied the hunger of the crowd by feeding them with five loaves and two fish. Just as he fed the crowds during his lifetime, so he feeds the disciples with breakfast on the beach. What began as an overnight fishing expedition became the occasion for sharing food with the risen Christ. He had not abandoned them but continued to feed them even now.

If the eyes of our hearts are open, we too will recognize the risen One among us in the events of our everyday life—in our homes, our workplaces, and our schools; on the bus, behind the counter, in the hospital waiting room. When we come together as a community of faith, the risen One also continues to feed us as we gather around the table to break the bread and share the cup. Each celebration of the Lord’s Supper offers us a joyful encounter with the risen Christ in which our eyes may be opened to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) expresses this profound truth in his well-known hymn, “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus”:

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us;
Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received him
When the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise:
“I am with you evermore”?

A Hymn for Today: “Blessing and Honor”

On the Sundays of Year C, the Lectionary provides a series of readings from Revelation, many of which include hymns sung in praise of God and the Lamb. These jubilant hymns highlight the book’s purpose of providing encouragement to communities experiencing brutal persecution.

Scottish minister Horatius Bonar penned more than 600 hymns during his lifetime, the best known of which is “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” This adaptation and expansion (1866) of a verse from today’s reading (Revelation 5:12) was titled “Song of the Lamb” by its author.

Blessing and honor and glory and power,
wisdom and riches and strength evermore,
be to the Lamb who our battle has won
whose are the kingdom, the crown, and the throne.

Let all the heavens sound forth Jesus’ name;
let all the earth sing his glory and fame.
Ocean and mountain, stream, forest, and flow’r
echo these praises and tell of God’s pow’r.

Ever ascending the song and the joy,
ever descending the love from on high;
blessing and honor and glory and praise:
this is the theme of the hymns that we raise.

Give we the glory and praise to the Lamb;
take we the robe and the harp and the palm;
sing we the song of the Lamb that was slain,
dying in weakness but rising to reign.

Text: Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), alt.

Image Credit: Breakfast on the Beach, Peter Koenig, 20th cent., Parish of St. Edward, Kettering, UK

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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