Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” John 21:12
One of my favorite Bible passages comes at the end of the Gospel of John. The recently risen Jesus is on the beach of the Sea of Tiberius while the disciples unsuccessfully fish. Jesus yells from shore, “try the other side of the boat!” When the disciples change sides, their nets fill with fish. Quickly they return to shore finding Jesus has been cooking. He feeds them fresh baked bread and grilled fish.
I love the idea of Jesus making breakfast for his friends. Imagining Jesus successfully starting a charcoal fire after a few attempts. When the flames have simmered down and the temperature is just right, Jesus lays the cleaned fish and unbaked dough on the heated stones for cooking. Perhaps Jesus had been waiting on shore for a while. When the meal was ready to eat, he calls the disciples to return. Time for nourishment. Body and spirit.
The little details of this story give light to the character of Jesus and his intention for us. When we allow ourselves, we see these details in our days. Quieting ourselves, we sense Jesus setting us a table. Jesus out on the shore preparing what gives us nourishment. Watching for those moments we need assistance. Listening when we ask for help. Providing what we need instead of what we might want.
The conclusion of the story is Jesus asking the disciple Peter three times if Peter loves Jesus. “Of course, I do,” Peter responds. “How can you ask me that, Jesus?” Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep each time Peter answers. At the end of the story, Jesus says, “follow me.” A big ask in a very difficult time in history. It wasn’t going to be easy. Following can often mean death.
I don’t think it’s ever easy to feed sheep or follow Jesus. If people are like sheep, we aren’t easily maneuvered. We often balk when plans are not clear, and the horizon seems obstructed. It takes trust. It means knowing deeply Jesus is making a meal for each of us on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius.
The St. Ignatius Prayer of Examen is a practice that helps us see the fine details of our days. It is a practice to see places where Jesus is preparing a meal for us. To notice Jesus praying for us as he tenderly kneads the dough for the meal. To pray the Prayer of Examen, we notice when we follow and when we don’t follow God. When we pray the Prayer of Examen, we reflect where we sense God’s presence, noticing Jesus calling us back to shore and to be restored. Sharing a meal and readying us to follow another day.