Gospel reflection for 3rd Sunday of Easter: 1st May 2022

The Dawn of a New Day

‘When life gets difficult, when we become lost, confused, and afraid, when the changes of life are not what we wanted or think we deserve, we try to go back to the way it was before, to something safe, something familiar. We revert to old patterns of behaviour and thinking. No wonder that after the events of the previous days, Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” My hunch, however, is that Peter is not really trying to catch fish as much as he is fishing for answers. We can leave the places and even the people of our life but we can never escape ourselves or our life. We take ourselves with us wherever we go. Peter may have left Jerusalem but he cannot get away from all that happened during those three years of discipleship. So he fishes for answers. What have I done? What were those three years about? Who was Jesus? Where is he? Who am I? What will I do now? Where will I go? What will happen to me? Peter is dark night fishing. We have all been there, asking the same questions as Peter, looking for our place in life, seeking peace, and some sense of understanding and meaning; fishing through the darkness but ‘catching’ nothing. We come to the limits of our own self-sufficiency, when we have nothing to show for our efforts and nothing left to give. We are empty. But this emptiness is not the end or a failure. It is a beginning.’1

Then “it was light and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.” He looked like another fisherman. ‘The limited presence they had called Jesus has become a universal presence we call the Christ who is available beyond all the limitations of space, time, ethnicity, nationality, class and gender. He no longer looks like the Jesus the disciples knew. He looks like you and me. The Christ Mystery is the indwelling of the Divine Presence in everyone and everything and is encountered in ordinary occupations like fishing and is present in all the circumstances of our lives.’2

Returning to the familiarity of our former routines may help initially but at some point we may become aware that we need to ‘cast our nets’ in another direction, that we need to see and do things differently. Only then will we experience what it means to be “filled with the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19), a fullness that belongs to everyone. (The number153 refers to the fact that at that time in Israel the Jewish people believed that there were 153 nations on earth.)

‘The dark night of fishing has given way to the dawn of a new day, new hopes, new possibilities.’1

Adapted: [1] Michael Marsh [2] Richard Rohr

Gospel John 21:1-19

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything friends? And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’ They knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.