Day 14: With Jesus cooking for his disciples

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29 Mar 2020

With Jesus in the Desert’ is an online retreat that has been developed for people who are in social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. It has been designed to run for 14 days, but may be adapted and run as needed.

If you have someone to contact in any way during the retreat to speak about what is happening in your retreat and your day, that could be very helpful. Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia can put people in touch with experienced spiritual directors for one-to-one spiritual direction using online platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. For enquiries, please contact (02) 9488 4597.

1. Preparation for prayer

Sit or lie comfortably, aware of any tension in neck and shoulders, hands, tightness in the chest and muscles. Allow them to relax. Look around the room and house that are your desert, through the window at the world now closed to you. Allow God to enter the room and your life

2. What do you want?

What do you want from God during these days? .

For today, it will be helpful to include prayer to know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly, and to follow him more nearly in his journey through the desert to the joy of his rising .

3. Prayer to introduce day’s theme

Dear Lord, help me to be open to you now, and all this day. Believing that you are everywhere, may I sense your presence with me now. May I learn anew that you love to be with me. Amen.

4. Readings:

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish… When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. [John 21: 3 – 14 NRSV)

Psalm 95 (NRSV)

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
 let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
 let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
 and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
 the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
 and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

 O come, let us worship and bow down,
 let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
 and we are the people of his pasture,
 and the sheep of his hand.

5. Reflection.

When eventually we are free to leave our place of isolation most of us will be excited at the prospect of freedom and wider company. This happiness and excitement, which have a central part in the rhythms of faith, is caught in the story of the disciples with Jesus.

It is a scene of harmony and abundance. In contrast to the squabbling and going off on their own of Jesus’ followers before his death, here they happily go fishing together. After they catch nothing they return to land and Jesus, whom they do not recognise, tells them to fish on the other side. Instead of telling this landlubber to get lost, they do what they are told and catch a huge haul of fish, enough for a month of breakfasts. When they return to shore, they recognise Jesus and he feeds them with bread and with fish. It is a day to remember, a life of friendship and plenty to look forward to.

The stories in John’s Gospel always have a deeper meaning. This is a story about the mission of the Church to draw people to Christ. It is faithful to Jesus’ way if Christians are united among one another and listen to Christ’s voice however it comes to them, often through strangers. And the centre of their lives will be the time when he breaks bread with them at a shared meal, in the Eucharist. And they all look forward to the happiness of the banquet they will share with Christ at the end of time.

At the ending of our retreat we may share the excitement of the disciples who can eat with Jesus. The Gospel suggests that we can make an enormous difference by simple things – being enthusiastic with others when they make suggestions, working cheerfully together, sharing what good fortune has given us, and expecting to hear God’s voice in strangers. This can make even the desert flower.

6. How to pray

If you pray on the Gospel, imagine this story through the disciples’ eyes as they go fishing, catch nothing, follow a stranger’s advice to go back fishing, catch a mountain of fish, and find Jesus cooking the fish for a meal they share with him. Share with Jesus your own feelings on this last day of the retreat, thanking him for the kindnesses that have helped you live in it. Share with him also your hopes for coming days. Pray again for all the people who are in the same boat as you. In your prayer, ask for the deep experience of God’s love for you wherever you are taken.

Psalm 95 celebrates the joy of gathering again with friends after exile. Some lines from it may stay with you during the day.

Consider putting on some joyful instrumental music for your prayer.

7. Closing Prayer

Loving God, I thank you for your presence with me on this journey through the desert with Jesus’ Help me to look out for others as you looked out for the disciples wherever my life will now take me. Console, too, my friends and all the other people who are still isolated during the epidemic, and are anxious for their lives and families. Thank you, too, for the gift of all the people who keep hanging in with me, and for the gift of those whom I love and care for. Amen

8. Reflection on prayer

Spend a few minutes looking back at your prayer. Don’t try to judge whether it was a success or a failure – no attempt to pray is a failure. But recall the places where your heart was stirred – by love, anger, anxiety, and other feelings. Hold those moments out to God. If it is helpful, write them down.

Day 14 – Evening Prayer

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

Look back on the events of this day of self-isolation in the company of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you see as God sees.

2. Pay attention to your feelings.

The Spirit of God works in the movements of our hearts. Run through the day like a video camera. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. How did praying on the risen Jesus’ meeting with Mary affect you? Joy: Boredom? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? Where are these feelings coming from? What is God saying through these feelings? Do they say something about what matters deeply to you?

3. Choose one time when you have felt strongly and live it again. Ask the

Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that has struck you: a feeling of love, boredom, irritation, tranquillity or hatred etc. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something, apparently insignificant, but one which touched your heart, such as seeing a flock of galahs turning into the sun. Allow your response to the feeling to flow spontaneously from your heart— whether you feel gratitude, regret, joy or anger.

4. Look toward tomorrow.

Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges of another day in isolation. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey another day in isolation. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope and good humour.

5. End with a conversation with Jesus.

Ask for healing, ask his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Say thanks for the gift of your life and for the gift of the people who love you and those whom you live.

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