If you are a fan of white castles, you may remember an advertizing campaign they ran many, many years ago. It was very simple. “Hamburgers for breakfast? Why not?” Though the thought of that onion flavor to mark the beginning of my day (and probably stay with me most of the day) is a little less than desired, is it much stranger than the breakfast Jesus offered his disciples that morning? A charcoal fire with bread and fish? Hmmm….
I don’t know about you, but if I had just spent the night fishing, (without much success, I might add) around the smell of boats and tackle and nets, the last thing I would be hungry for is fish. The bread I could probably go for, but “Fish for Breakfast? – WHY?”
Despite your personal tastes, though, I invite you to think about what Jesus is really offering them in the breakfast. Besides the ‘comfort food’ of bread and fish, a staple of any fisherman’s diet, what he was really serving was a memory, wasn’t it? A memory that even they couldn’t miss, and that would set them back on the journey they had begun so long ago. When Jesus first met the disciples in Luke’s gospel, he commandeers Peter’s boat, and uses it to preach. Then he bids them to set out and fish, right there in the middle of the afternoon, the worst possible time to catch fish. You know the outcome, then. An enormous catch. More than they could handle. So when Jesus bids them to cast their nets on the other side and they haul in an enormous catch, they would begin to remember. And when they counted the number of fish, 153, it would have become clearer. 153 was the number of known nations at the time of Jesus. (so goes the thinking of many scholars on the number 153) So, Jesus was creating a new memory for them, but one that called them back to THE JOB, the moment when it all began. Fishers of men! Fishers of all God’s people! And it all begins again. But this time, to ALL the NATIONS.
But Jesus takes the memory one step further, doesn’t he? “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Now he is in deep water – because he is going right to Simon’s guilt and shame and failure. And the memory of his failure was something Peter was sure to get stuck in, unless Jesus could replace that memory with a different one. Three times he gives Peter the opportunity to create a new memory. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you really love me? And on the third time, Peter gets it. Now he understands that Jesus is giving him the chance to say it all over again. “Yes Lord, you know that the deepest truth in my life is that I love you. More than my failure and lack of courage and betrayal – there is this truth. I love you with all I am, and all that I was and all I will be.”
That MEMORY will feed Simon throughout the rest of his life. And instead of being afraid of the Jews and afraid of what they might do to him, he will, as we heard in the first reading, rejoice in the fact that he was found worthy of suffering for his Lord.
It is the best breakfast, really, that Jesus offered his disciples and Simon Peter. The memory of who they are deepest down within. The memory that set their hearts free and their feet on the road to proclaim the resurrection. And it is the same menu that you and I share this evening/morning- the memory of the meal that Jesus asked us to do in his honor, which makes him really present to us here at this altar and here in this community. Like Simon Peter, may we echo our own “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” And may that response set US free to feed his lambs, to tend his sheep and to grow always in love and in service of each other.