MENSA CHRISTI – AT A MORNING MEAL WITH CHRIST
She Waited 40 Years for This Moment
She was a day late joining our Holy Land pilgrimage from Rochester, MN, but bad weather wasn’t going to keep this delightful, almost 86 year-old woman away. After all, “Polly” had waited 40 years for this trip, with one conflict after another preventing her from coming in the past.
As we left Tiberius Friday morning on a dreamed- about boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, she joined five others in offering an opening prayer, each ending with a new word, “Praise-aluia!” Polly thanked God for giving her this opportunity before her life ended.
After arriving on the northwest shore at the Kibbutz Ginossar where we saw the first-century restored “Jesus boat,” we headed to Tabgha (meaning “seven springs”) where we entered the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. It contains the rock, called the “Mensa Christi” where Jesus is believed to have prepared a charcoal breakfast of fish, his third resurrection appearance according to the Gospel of John (21:1-19).
Tracy told the gripping story of the miraculous catch of 153 large fish from the disciples who had left Jerusalem to return to their old profession in Galilee. It was when breakfast was over that Jesus said not once but three times, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Each time Peter’s heart was broken. Lovingly the Lord told him to “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.” He then predicted the rough road ahead for Peter and ended by saying to him, “Follow me.”
Those three questions and the impact of following struck a deeply personal note on those Galilean shores. We recognized that each of those disciples was being asked to leave their respectable jobs of being fishermen to claim the unrespectable first-century jobs of being shepherds. To claim and follow Christ would have been seen as a demotion to the world around them.
But instead of running away, we were sitting together thinking about all the ways we want to shepherd the hungry, the poor, and the lost when we return. We teared up thinking about all of our own three-time denials, knowing that Jesus’ words were meant for us, as well.
And here sat Polly, like Simeon, having waited a lifetime for a revelation like this, one in which the world might think she’s crazy.