The following reflection is based on John 21:1-19.
In our Gospel story today, Jesus does something extraordinarily ordinary: He cooks!
I had never done any cooking in my life until a few years ago when I was studying in London. My new Superior then told me in no uncertain terms that I should, like every member of our community, take my turn to do the cooking for Sunday dinner.
When I protested that I could only scramble eggs, he dismissed my concern with a wave of his hand. When I suggested ordering pizza, he just walked away.
Even if my turn was still about three weeks away, I started making a list of people who could help me–not just friends who were trained professional chefs (I had a number of them), but also those who have become experts in the kitchen from all their cooking for their own families (I had a lot of those too).
Just the same I anticipated my turn to cook for that community with dread. You see, for Sunday dinner, we were expected to prepare not just any meal, but one that included a starter, a main entree, veggies, some carbs, and a dessert. In my book, that’s an entire production number too overwhelming for a newbie in the kitchen like myself.
To top it all, there were ten members in the community, and except for two Brits, the others came from different cultures and understandably had different culinary tastes. Finally, based on the quick, informal research I conducted, everyone else knew how to cook!
By the time my assigned Sunday arrived, I had finalized my menu and purchased every single ingredient I needed. By 1 pm, I was already in the kitchen slicing carrots–just to make sure that I would finish in time for the 7 pm dinner.
Three hours later, I was still consulting YouTube clips and chopping onions. It was then that I saw–through my tears–the significance of what I was doing. I wasn’t just fulfilling a somewhat unwelcome obligation. I was doing things I had never done before: I had never chopped onions before; I had never cried because of onions; and I had never even held a kitchen knife before (at least not for its intended purpose!). I was actually preparing food for people! It was an activity that the Risen Lord did, one in which I had never shared before that day.
When you think about it, there are a million and one other more appropriately important and glamorous things that one who has just risen from the dead can do. But here he chooses to make breakfast for his friends!
It’s not really surprising when we realize that one of the first things the Risen Christ did was just as mundane and ordinary as cooking. And what was the first thing he did when he got up that first Easter morning? Why, he made his bed! He neatly folded the shroud and linens, as Peter and John observed when they stepped into the empty tomb.
How wonderful that Easter unfolds in the dullest and most ordinary of our activities and events! The Risen Lord is present and can be found even in the most mundane moments of our lives. We need not wait until we achieve something outstanding. We need not hold our breath for an extraordinary event to transpire in our lives. The Risen Lord walks with us and watches us every single moment, his nearness certainly most deeply experienced in the joyful and the painful, but no less enduring in the dull and the boring. Such is the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives: quiet and often unrecognized, but constant and real.
We must never tire of seeking him in all things!
PS: That first dinner was a hit, and now, some years and many cooked meals later, I am considered a pretty good cook–if I may say so myself. 🙂