Some of those reading these blog posts will likely be familiar with my fondness for today’s gospel from John, chapter 21. I’ve often called it “breakfast on the beach,” a catchy title, I think, that today means more than usual to me. When it shows up in the lectionary readings I’m always quick to highlight the humanity of Jesus, shown by his willingness to do a very simple, loving service to his friends, i.e. cooking them breakfast. I rarely focus on the earlier part of the gospel where the apostles are tired and likely disappointed because they have worked all night and caught no fish. With a quick directive from Jesus to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, Jesus saves them from their fatigue and probably significant hunger while at the same time re-igniting their trust that he is really — physically –present to them. It is, as we learn later in the chapter, about more than just the food.
We have been virtually quarantined in our house now for about a month. A few trips to our village post office with mask and gloves and a plastic window between me and the postal worker, as well as a couple of bank deposits from the drive-up window, have been the totality of my outings and more than any of my housemates. We take turns more now planning and cooking our meals as we are all home all the time.
It was clear at the beginning of this week that food supplies were becoming scarce in our house. Rather than anxiety-producing, that meant we needed to make and call in a list to Sister Paula’s sister, Joan, a widow who lives alone now and spends her days serving others wherever she sees a need. In the days before COVID-19, I would sometimes stop at Joanie’s house to drop off or pick up something for Paula. Inevitably, I would see Joan in someone’s driveway returning the neighbor’s trash barrels to their storage place after the morning trash pick-up. It is not her only neighborly service. Whether or not she knows the name or anything else about the person she sees in need of help, she never passes up a chance to be God’s envoy.
We are now fully stocked again for a week or two and in addition to the food we have received the love of God in the generosity of a cheery, willing woman we call “sister” to us and to all those who cross her path.