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"Come and dine"
WILLIAM B. HARRISON


         In the twenty-first chapter of John's gospel is the story of the appearance of Jesus to some of his disciples after his resurrection, a story which is radiant with the glory of spiritual understanding. Morning is breaking over the hilltops surrounding the Sea of Galilee. In the uncertain light of early dawn the disciples, who have toiled all night in the vain effort to fill their nets from the sea, perceive a person, apparently unknown to them, on the nearby shore. Across the quiet waters comes a gentle voice to the silent fishermen, saying, "Children, have ye any meat?" In reply their weary disappointment finds expression in a brief, half-hearted "No." Again there comes to them the voice, in quiet, loving command, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." They cast, and find in abundance. The light is not yet sufficient to enable them to identify the one on the shore, but he who has the greatest spiritual intuition, "that disciple whom Jesus loved," declares it is the Master who has spoken to them, and who has performed the miracle or sign of the ever-presence and abundance of supply.

         Slowly the heavy net is drawn to the shore by the amazed fishermen. Not a fish has been taken from it, and yet they behold the calm, victorious demonstrator of Truth standing by a fire on which a meal has already been prepared and fish cooked ready to be served to the hungry toilers. Whence came the fish he has prepared for them? From the same source as those they have caught in their net. Christ Jesus' understanding of the limitless power of Truth, setting aside material law, has replaced it with ever operative spiritual law, and has wrought the miracle.

         To gain the full significance of the story thus briefly told, it is necessary to review events preceding. Some of the disciples had been fishermen by trade before they joined Jesus in his public healing work. He had said to them, as they were bidden to leave their nets, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." For three years they had followed him, and had witnessed innumerable demonstrations of the power of divine law to meet and master every human need. They had seen him set aside and annul so-called material law, heal sickness, destroy sin, conquer hate, relieve the oppressed, comfort the sorrowing, cheer the hopeless, and raise the dead. Jesus had walked on the water, fed the hungry, made whole the palsied arm, and appeared and disappeared at will without regard to time or space. Not only had he robbed the tomb of its victim, but, as we are told in the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew, he had so mightily assaulted the belief in material life at the time of his victory over the ignominious death his enemies had planned for him, that "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

         What a wonderful three years it had been! So numerous and varied had been his demonstrations of spiritual power that John, after sketching a few leading incidents in that most remarkable career, closes his brief account of it with the statement that if all the Master's deeds were to be recorded "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

         How almost incredible it seems that after the experiences the disciples had enjoyed in their association with Jesus, they should fall away from him in the crucial hour, abandon their Leader, lose hope, and submit to sorrow and despair! They had turned in thought and deed to their old pursuits before they met the Master in that early morning hour. Those three years of wonder and glory now seemed but a puzzling memory. Jesus had left them; of that they felt sure. What were they to do? Not apparently conscious of the understanding and courage essential to continue the spiritual work he had bade them carry on in his name, they returned to their old material ways. Peter — impulsive, changeable Peter — casting aside the marvelous record of the three years' ministry with its all-important lessons, said to his comrades, "I go a fishing;" and yielding to the mesmerism of the hour, his companions replied, "We also go with thee."

         Is it any wonder they failed to catch anything? Who does not know that the one who has gained a glimpse of Truth must live up to and improve upon the little he has learned, if he is to succeed even in a small degree? How often has the young student of Christian Science, or the older one, found that he cannot go back to the old thought without suffering or failure! It is the law of justice that we use the light we have in search of more of Truth. We may succeed in the old way so long as we know nothing of a better way; but when we have learned the right way, we must follow in it or the thorns that line our path will more often and more deeply pierce the flesh.

         How many of us are trying to make our demonstrations of the truth while clinging to the old ways? Are we faithful to the new light that has dawned, or are we trying to patch the seamless garment with materiality, as did the disciples who toiled all night in vain? As the sun rose over the Galilean hills, the repentant fishermen awakened to the fact that supply depends on God, Spirit. Their toil had been fruitless; but through another's spiritual understanding they now dragged behind them a net filled with fishes, and beheld before them a meal prepared and ready. How futile must have seemed their material labor in the face of such demonstration!

         On page 35 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mrs. Eddy says, "This spiritual meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light is the morning meal which Christian Scientists commemorate." One can readily believe the disciples were exalted as they became conscious that their Master was with them in greater power than ever before. Victor over material beliefs, he was with them again to awaken them to their own possibilities. How welcome must have been the sound of his voice, as he bade them "come and dine"! Humanity needs today to learn the import of this invitation. Today, as then, man's need is already met, and we have but to cast the net on the right side, — look to Spirit instead of to matter for our supply, — and we shall hear the gentle voice of Truth saying in tenderest tones, "Come and dine." A weary world, struggling with want, sorrow, debt, and doubt, has but to turn from the Adam-dream to the Christ, Truth, to have its needs lovingly supplied and to hear the same ever ready invitation to all who are hungering and striving in vain for relief through material means.

         May the myriads of discouraged toilers on the sea of material beliefs, relying in vain on creed and dogma to fill the empty nets, heed the loving call of Christian Science that comes with the dawn of a new day, and turning from matter to Spirit behold the wonder of spiritual demonstration, followed by Love's infinite invitation to all mankind, "Come and dine."

 

"'Come and dine'" by William B. Harrison
Christian Science Sentinel, January 31, 1925
 

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