Posted by: frburke23 | April 10, 2016

Thought for 3rd Sunday of Easter

JOHN 21:1-19
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.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus had already appeared to the apostles twice after the resurrection. I find it interesting that Peter and the others decide to go fishing. Everything in the Gospel of John has a deeper meaning. Were the apostles going back to their way of life before Jesus had called them? Were their lives not completely transformed by seeing Jesus twice after He rose from the dead?
Don’t we do this sometimes in our lives? We have a powerful experience of Jesus, we are on fire for a short time and then we go back to our former way of life. We saw this after September 11, 2001. Our churches were full for a few weeks after the tragedy, but slowly everyone went back to their normal way of life. God did not remain an important part of many peoples’ lives. Not only do we go back to our previous jobs, but sometimes spiritually we revert to our old way of life. Notice the apostles caught nothing when they went fishing their old way. We too come up empty when we try to do things our own way.
So Jesus appears to them and gives them some pointers and they catch a huge group of fish. When we follow the Lord’s instructions good things happen.
And once Peter hears that it is Jesus, he dives into the water. I think this is full of meaning. Water symbolizes God’s grace, new life and rebirth. Peter experiences all of that as he dives into the water. But as I was praying with this gospel reading, I couldn’t help but think that Peter was becoming one of the fish. The future fisherman first had to be a fish. He had to be caught by Jesus. He was captured by the King of the Universe, and his life would never be the same. Once his heart was captured by the Fisherman, Peter then became a fisher of men.
Jesus had started a charcoal fire and invited Peter and the others to breakfast. The only other time a charcoal fire is mentioned in Scripture is where Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus invites Peter back to the charcoal fire, not to condemn him, but to forgive him. So Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” He gives Peter a chance for redemption and Peter jumps at the chance. Jesus invites us back to the places of our sinfulness also, not to condemn us, but to forgive us.
Finally, Jesus tells Peter that when he was young he did what he wanted. But when he grows older his arms would be stretched out and he would go where he did not want to go. Peter did his own will for many years of his life. But when Peter finally gave his will over to God, his life was never the same. Of course, Peter was crucified upside down. We too spend much of our lives doing what we want to do. Jesus invites us to follow Him and to do His will. Do you trust Him?
Have I returned to my old way of life after encountering Jesus?
Have I jumped into the water all the way, giving my life completely over to Jesus?
Has Jesus invited me back to a place where I denied Him so that He could forgive me?
Am I focused on doing my will or the will of the Father?
Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke
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