Easter 03, Year C
- Remain in me, as I remain in you (Jn. 15:4)
In her book, The Irrational Season, Madeleine L’Engle mentions an Orthodox attitude that she likes and finds enlightening. For the Orthodox, it appears, it does not matter if a participant in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy—longer than our own celebrations that we perhaps complain about—gets distracted sometimes and lets his mind wander. According to Orthodox thinking, “all the time some one is concentrating; there is always someone in the Body who is wholly focused on the Holy Mysteries; there is always someone keeping the strong rope of anamnesis unbroken.” This Orthodox attitude leaves L’Engle deeply convinced of the great importance of interdependence.
It was great that, upon Peter saying, “I am going fishing,” the other six quickly replied, “We also will come with you.” For Peter alone, or even accompanied by another, would not be up to the challenge that would soon be facing them. More than just one or two individuals would be necessary. There would be a need precisely for seven people, with the number 7, which denotes perfection, referring perhaps to a perfect community of people who could not help depending on one another.
To know that it was the Lord who bade them to cast the net over the right side of the boat, Peter had to depend on the disciple whom Jesus loved. If together the fishermen could not pull in the net because of the great number of fish, much less could a single fisherman do such task. To drag the net with the fish, this would require more than just two hands, even if looks like Peter was able, on his own, to complete what the others started with his dragging ashore the net that did not tear notwithstanding its catch of 153 large fish. And it did not matter that the others did not have their gaze fixed on the Lord, since Peter anyway was concentrating so much on Jesus that he did not tarry to jump into the water to meet him. There is and will always be a Peter, so I believe at least, who, no matter how weak a human being he proves to be, will receive sufficient grace to feed the lambs, tend the sheep, and strengthen them all, so that the Church will remain unbreakable and in it is kept unbroken the rope of saving anamnesis.
Such is or ought to be the Church, I think. In it is practiced and fostered genuinely healthy interdependence, insofar as those who had jumped into the water of baptism live the Eucharistic anamnesis that points to the one who came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish, and in as much as the baptized embody the communion attested to in Acts 2:41-47 and 4:32-37, the union that St. Vincent de Paul says “will bring success to God’s work,” while warning at the same time that “nothing but disunion will be able to destroy it.” Joy characterizes the generous interdependence of the members of the Church. Persecution does not sadden them; they rejoice that they are found worthy to suffer persecution and dishonor for the sake of Jesus’ name. They believe with firm faith that as they suffer now for the Lamb, so they will be glorified with him someday (Rom. 8:17) and will be participants in that heavenly celebration where is sung, unbroken or unceasingly and without any distraction on anyone's part, the hymn: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”