3rd Sunday of Easter (C)

“Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”

The apostles returned to their former abodes, particularly to the Sea of Galilee so full of tender and nostalgic memories. It was while they were fishing that the Lord had called them to be “Fishers of Men.” The first miracle of water changed into wine has taken place at Cana in Galilee. They had no wine similarly there were no fish, but at the command of the Lord there is everything in abundance.  This post-resurrection appearance of Jesus reminds us of an earlier incident in his ministry, namely the call of Peter and the other disciples as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee.  Fishermen often worked at night in order to be able to sell the fresh possible fish at the market in the morning. In both instances, Jesus asks the disciples to cast their nets into the sea a second time.   They catch a large number of fish, and in both incidents.  

Peter and John remained true to their characters; 

John was the first one to reach the empty tomb on Easter Morning, so Peter was the first to enter it; John was the first one to believe that the Lord has risen, Peter was the first to greet the Risen Lord; John was the first to see the Lord from the boat, so Peter was the first to rush to the Lord. John had the greater spiritual discernment, but peter had the quick action. It was John who leaned on the Master’s breast the night of the last supper, he was the one nearest to the cross and to his care the Savior committed His mother. When our Savior had walked on the waves towards the ship, Peter could not wait for the master to come to him, as he asked the Master to bid him come upon the water. 

Eucharistic meal with the Risen Lord

The return of the apostles to their old occupation sets the stage for their conversion.  Eventually they come to understand that the stranger on the shore directing them to a tremendous catch of fish actually is “the Lord.”  They recognize him while they are doing what they have always done. Immediately afterwards, the disciples eat a meal with Jesus.  It was at this point that they realized that their “Lord” was among them, imparting to them the experience of his glorified presence.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus opens his ministry with a miracle of abundance at Cana (2:1-11) and closes his ministry with another miracle of abundance on the Sea of Tiberius (21:4-6). “Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish”(v. 13).  This is also reminiscent of the earlier feeding of the five thousand on the shores of this same sea (6:1-15).  Jesus is sensitive both to people’s physical and to their spiritual needs.   Since then, the Church has followed Jesus’ example by feeding, clothing, housing, and educating people.  Our concern for people’s physical needs not only relieves human suffering, but also constitutes a powerful spiritual witness. 

The triple confession and the commissioning of Peter. Love as the condition of authority.

One of the features of the stories about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection is that they nearly always end up with Jesus commissioning someone. Jesus appears for a purpose. The presence of Jesus is strongly linked with the sense of calling.  Peter denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’ arrest (18:17, 25, 27), and now Jesus is offering him three chances to redeem himself. So Jesus first deals with Peter’s sin, and then commissions him to work on his behalf.  Jesus asks twice if Peter loves him with the deeper, stronger, and more sacrificial kind of agapelove and not mere phileolove involving brotherly love or friendship. In any event, “the one thing about which Jesus questioned Peter prior to commissioning him to tend the flock, was love.  This is the basic qualification for Christian service.  Other qualities may be desirable, but love is completely indispensable (cf. 1Cor. 13:1-3).”  Peter by this triple confession is restored to the leadership position from which he had fallen by his triple denial.  Furthermore, it is proclaimed that he is indeed a pastor, who shows his love for Christ in feeding Christ’s sheep, a recycling of denial into affirmation. Peter’s rehabilitation is a celebration of divine grace. As the shepherd appointed by the true shepherd, to do as he did, to care for the sheep, Peter also symbolizes leadership. “Feed my lambs” will continue to be the agenda of the post-resurrection Church until the risen Lord appears in glory.

We need to open our eyes, ears and hearts wide to see, hear and experience the Risen Lord coming into our lives in various forms, circumstances and events

Risen Lord blessing us with success and achievements

We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the Risen Lord behind our unexpected victories, great achievements, promotions at work, miraculous healings, and success in relationships.  Let us not foolishly attribute a success in our career only to hard work; our good health only to daily exercise coupled with moderation in food and drink; and our sound financial position only to frugal spending habits and the good management of money.  Let us remember the divine warnings, “Without me you can do nothing”(Jn. 15:5); and “If the Lord does not build the house the work of the builders is useless.”(Psalm 127: 1). 

 Let us compensate for our moments of weakness by genuine acts of love, compassion and service.  Peter was called upon to prove   his love:  “If you love me, feed my sheep.” The same Risen Lord reminds us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”(John 14:15). What do our present actions and activities say about our love for Christ?  The Risen Jesus accepts our apology, dismisses the charges against us, exonerates us of guilt, and forgives all our weaknesses.  He   continues to challenge us to demonstrate our love for him by faithfully, freely, feeding his sheep entrusted to our care. Can we respond like St. Peter, “Lord you know that I love you.”