April 14, 2013: 3rd Sunday of Easter
At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. (John 21:1-19)
Let us savor this wonderful story as story, looking at setting, characters, and action—elements which can enrich our understanding of its sacred meanings.
First of all there is the beautiful setting—a lake shore at sunrise on a spring morning!
There is plenty of action:
- a mysterious stranger gives a ridiculous suggestion—and the result is more fish than the boat will hold
- Peter jumps into the water, presumably to get a few minutes alone with Jesus—but we soon find him dashing to haul in the netful of fish.
- Jesus invites them to breakfast, yet is still a little mysterious, at least until he breaks the bread.
The principal characters, of course, are Jesus and Peter.
Peter’s impulsiveness makes us smile, but we should also admire his courage—and his love. A lesser person might have swum the other way to avoid facing Jesus!
As for Jesus, his character, so richly described, actually brings us to the sacred meaning of the story. Like most Gospel stories, this one tells us what God is like by telling what Jesus said and did. So God . . . appreciates the beauty of a lake shore . . . is generous and hospitable . . . nurtures us and invites us to cooperate with Providence . . . welcomes . . . forgives . . . and plays a little joke from time to time!
Spend some time outdoors with someone you love. Bring a snack to share.