Dear One and All,
Today’s Gospel gives us another graphic account of an encounter between Jesus and his apostles after his resurrection.
One point that can go easily unnoticed in the Gospel reading is that, despite everything they had been through, the apostles had returned to work, and had decided to get on with it. It is impossible for us to imagine what must have been going through their minds during those post Crucifixion days. Life, however, has a way of marching on. It was like the shepherds at Bethlehem, where, it can be presumed that, after being to see the sign that the angel spoke of, they probably returned to their task of minding sheep, but one could safely say that they would have been changed somehow through the encounter with the Infant Messiah. On Mt Tabor, when Jesus was transfigured, and was seen in splendid glory, Peter wanted to stay there. Jesus, however, had a job to do, and they had to come down off the mountain, and get on with it. While they return to the normal work-style, however, because of their experience, something deep within has changed, and nothing is exactly the way it used to be. Every time that we have an encounter with the Lord, we too are changed. Life is never and can never be the same again.
The events, which are related in the story today, underline for us that Jesus wants to be involved with us in the everyday issues of life. However, there is a silver thread underlying the significance and meaning for us in the Gospel; namely, in Jesus the impossible can become possible! Jesus says,” Have you caught anything friends?” The disciples said “No”. “Try the starboard side,” said Jesus, and what a catch they had! It was at that moment that the Risen Jesus was recognised. Notice what the beloved disciple said in that moment of recognition, ‘It is the Lord!’ Let’s dwell on this for a moment…as John heard the conversation he knew in his voice and request, the tell-tale signature of Jesus. The voice that he and the others had been used to in Our Lord’s earthly life, is heard anew in his Risen life. We too hear the Lord’s voice and saving activity as well. So often we too know in our heart that the signature of the Lord is present…..we know it! The knowledge and conclusion is not the result of some academic deduction; far from it, it is that similar knowledge that we have of those who are closest to us in our life of love. On the other hand, Peter, true to form jumps, while he thinks…and goes towards Jesus….this is another way of responding to the voice of the Lord, and I bet that has sometimes applied to us.
In taking note of the haul of fish, it was not meant to be an Easter economic gift to the disciples. The symbolism of this event has a far more insightful meaning. At the command of Jesus, the impossible becomes possible! In short, the Mission entrusted to the disciples, and to his church can so often seem impossible, but through the listening, and acting on the spoken Word from the Lord, help is needed to attend to the harvesting. Mission is always a corporate affair, we are never lone rangers in the Lord’s work.
Further on in the story, Jesus invites his disciples to breakfast, where there was some bread and fish cooking. Jesus asks them to bring more fish to the meal, and here we have the words spoken by Jesus with distinct Eucharistic overtones….according to the Johannine Community. Jesus took the bread and gave it to them and the same with the fish…” The gift that Jesus was giving them would be food which will last forever, and the partaking of this food changes the inner spirit, thus enableling us to respond to the invitation of Jesus,” Do you love me?”
There are also echoes in this Eucharistic feature of the Lord’s appearance to what he did with the loaves and fishes earlier on in his public life. Remember, the disciples said to Jesus ‘where are we going to get enough food to feed all these people?’ Jesus asks them a question: ‘What do you have to feed them?’ The response was five barely loves and two fish. What does Jesus do with the five loaves and two fish? He takes the food, gives thanks, breaks them and share them. In that story we have Eucharistic overtones which is an intense Catechetical statement. Let’s explore that! When Jesus asks them what food do they have, it was not just a question about what was in the picnic basket, it had a great deal to do with the first promise made to Abraham…..’You will be the Father of a great nation’…..the impossible with him, became possible. Then there is the Covenant initiated by the Lord God on Mt.Sinai….’ I will be your God, and you will be my people….’ what about the five barely loaves what does that mean? It would seem that according to the early Fathers of the Church, they saw in that number of loaves, the first five Books of the Bible….God’s Word in Old Testament times was often seen as food! Now we link this to the story in today’s Gospel, and we then have a fuller understanding of what it means for us and for all seasons. Now let’s reflect upon the burning question: ‘Do you love me?’
What is our answer to that question? Do you love Jesus? Whenever we really love someone it is always accompanied by responsibility…in this case, Jesus says to Peter, and to us….” Feed my lambs and feed my sheep”. Hence, we are called to be people who enliven and nourish others through our Faith, Hope and Love which has the signature of the Lord all through it.
The three times that Jesus poses the question to Peter is what is called a Semitic triplet….there are lots of 3’s in the Scriptures. This indicates that something very deep within the person is happening; indicative of a change, or a metanoia ( meaning a change of heart that comes about through seeing life differently….a bit like standing on our hands…we would see the world very differently) Remember Jonah in the belly of the whale, for how many days? Three! How many days did it take Jonah to cross the ancient pagan city of Nineveh? Three days! How many days was Jesus in the tomb? Three days! So, asking Peter these questions, three times….and especially after the Eucharistic meal, is a very deep invitation from the Lord, with an enormous responsibiliity in the Mission of the Church. Feed them, Look after them and Feed them. Pastoral ministry is all of this, together with a towel, jug and basin on hand – Servanthood – footwashers of the Lord.
May God bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr.Kev
TO SERVE WITH LOVE….A PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS.
Send workers into your harvest.
Enable your family to lead its sons
and daughters to the holiness to
which they are called and to work for
the salvation of others.
Lord, let me know clearly the work
Which You are calling me to do in life,
And grant me the grace I need to
Answer Your call with courage and love
And lasting dedication to Your will.