3rd Sunday of Easter
The Gospel reading that the Church presents us with today, portrays an encounter between Jesus Christ and some of his disciples, after the Resurrection. A miracle is the result of this encounter, where the disciples, who were fishing, go from catching nothing to catching so much fish that they have trouble hauling the catch ashore. Even though the disciples do not know whether it is Jesus who is telling them to cast their nets back out again, they still follow his instructions. We are told that the Beloved disciple first recognizes Jesus, and says in faith, “it is the Lord.” Here, we cannot help but think back to the Gospel of last Sunday where the apostle Thomas, previously crippled by doubt, makes a similar faith-filled statement, when he proclaims, “my Lord and my God,” after encountering the risen Christ.
Upon realizing that it is Jesus who is present, Peter does not remain in the boat, but, filled with faith, jumps out and moves toward the Lord. Even though the large catch of fish he has now acquired would be sufficient to fulfill his material needs and wants, Peter is not afraid to abandon everything and go to Christ. It would seem that the practical thing to do would have been to stay in the boat and meet Jesus on the shore when all the fish had been off-loaded. An encounter with Christ, however, demands that we follow him without delay and not allow our material cares and possessions to hamper our movement towards him. Christ seeks to enter into relationship with each of us, but we must be willing to put him first in our lives. This, of course, does not mean that we have to completely abandon all our material possessions, but it does mean that we must not make these possessions more important than our relationship with Christ.
While it is essential that we all have a personal encounter with our Lord, this encounter must also flow outwards and fuel our communion with one another. In the second part of today’s Gospel reading, we are told that Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, three times. Just as Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night before Christ was crucified, he is now able to affirm his complete love and fidelity to the Risen Lord. Jesus then gives Peter the very important command of feeding his (Jesus’) sheep. Feeding the sheep of Jesus means that Peter, who is the first Pope, has the responsibility of ensuring that the Gospel message is spread to others who need to be encouraged to have a personal relationship with Christ.
As Christians, we have the same responsibly of spreading our faith in Jesus Christ, as did Peter and the apostles. As a people animated by the love of God for us, we must be unafraid to allow the missionary zeal within us to flow outwards. We have encountered Christ, and he has set our hearts on fire, with a burning zeal for souls. Let us be unafraid to put God first in our lives and spread his message of hope to all the world.
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”