Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle C
1st Reading: Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
2nd Reading: Revelation 5: 11-14
Gospel: John 21: 1-19
Today's gospel plays out in our heads like a video. Putting ourselves in the disciples’ position is easy. We get it. We understand their frustration. Things did not go well (or as expected), so they return home, back to the lives they know and understand. They are bored and wondering what to do, so they decide to go fishing. But that doesn't go well either. Then they hear a voice:
Voice: “Any luck?”
Voice: “Try something different.”
It was in the miracle that they recognized the presence of the Lord. It wasn’t the words Jesus said or even the sound of His voice that brought recognition. It was in the mystery of the abundance of fish that the disciples finally realize it is Jesus that instructs them. To confirm their assumption, Jesus reveals himself further in the sharing of a meal. Jesus is already cooking fish when the disciples arrived. He did not depend on their recent catch to feed these men.
John’s gospel is full of signs. The fish represent us; the Church. Peter is named as the shepherd and the meal shared represents The Eucharist. Scholars further claim the number of 153 represents the exact number of fish species as cataloged by Greek zoologists. One of every species. One, representing many (and all;) the universal outreach. And the untorn net? That’s an example of the unity of The Church.
Peter’s three-time affirmation of his love for Jesus is an atonement for Peter’s previous denial of Jesus. Once Peter is reconciled, Jesus immediately calls him to ministry and leadership, which comes through service. It’s is one thing to say you love Jesus and quite another to “feed his sheep.” Love is a decision, a choice; not a sentimental emotion. Love is a verb. It requires action. This commissioning of Peter must have appeared as Jesus picking a favorite. Competition was fierce among the disciples. When Jesus was alive, their loyalty was with Jesus, not each other. We learn bits of this rivalry when James and John ask for the two highest places of honor, or when the disciples argue about status at the Last Supper. But Jesus is clear. Peter’s decision to serve the sheep that Jesus loves will end in the same kind of death that Jesus suffered.
Ultimately, this week's gospel (and the other Easter season gospels we've heard thus far) bring us to an understanding of witness. It was (and still is) witness that brings people to Jesus. John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to Peter's brother Andrew, and Andrew brought Peter along. Peter told James and James brought his younger brother John. Philip brought Nathaniel, and the other James brought Simon. And so on, and so on, right up to the witnesses who sit beside us at Mass each and every Sunday. We may never know who we are influencing by our witness as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are all called to the same tasks that Jesus required of Peter;
1. Love all that He loves.
2. Care for those who need care.
3. Tend to those who are inside and outside of our community.
What significance does the Resurrection have for you? Does it have any importance beyond being a testimony to eternal life?
What difference did Jesus’ Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit make to the Apostles?
Through the Resurrection, the Apostles learned at a deeper level who Jesus is. Yet only John recognizes Jesus after their miraculous catch of fish. Why is this so?
Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. Can you think of any reason for this? Can you identify with Jesus’ question and your answers at different times?