Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 29, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 21:1-14

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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is no passage in the gospels that I love more than the account of the appearance by the resurrected Lord to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. The narrative brims over with details that make it come alive in my imagination. Today’s gospel contains the first part of the account.

The apostles know the Lord has been resurrected, but they are unsure about what to do next. There is in this passage Peter’s sense of expectancy and uncertainty, his knowledge that great things are afoot coupled with his hesitation about what to do next, a doubt that expresses itself in going to do the thing Peter knows best how to do: Peter’s default position, to go fishing. The failure to catch any fish during the course of a night of trying heightens the apostles’ sense of the tentativeness of their position. When dawn comes, a passerby, like so many generations of onlookers watching fishermen ply their trade, offers a little advice, “Try the net on the other side.” They follow his advice, and the huge catch of fish leads the beloved disciple to a moment of recognition: “It is the Lord.” Peter loses himself in excitement and counter-intuitively throws his clothes on to jump in the lake and swim to the shore to see the Lord. When he arrives, Jesus has prepared a meal for his disciples. There is a fire on the shore with fish cooking on it and bread: the resurrected Lord takes trouble to be of service to his friends. And then there is the hint of a Eucharistic action when the Lord takes bread and gives it to the disciples. The presence of the fish he distributes also recalls for us the feeding of the multitudes.

Today, as we go about our day in the presence of the resurrected Lord, let us be prepared to recognize our Lord in the kindly stranger who appears to us. And as this Kindly Stranger steers fish into our nets, however this comes to be, let us be as open as Peter was to be surprised by joy.

Spiritual reading: Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. (Martin Luther)

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