THEY MUST DECIDE, ONCE AND FOR ALL, BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND FISHING BOAT
(A biblical refection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER – April 10, 2016)
Gospel Reading: John 21:1-19
First Reading: Acts 5:27-32,40-41; Psalms: Psalm 30:2-6,11-13; Second Reading: Revelation 5:11-14
The Scripture Text
After this Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it is, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was 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?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” A second time He said to him. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do You love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are ole, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This He said to show by hat death he was to glorify God.) And after this He said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:1-19 RSV)
Jesus was raised in northern Palestine in Galilee, in the agricultural country far removed from the noisy imperial city of Jerusalem in the south (Judea). In recruiting His apostles, He chose Galileans, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, who came from Kerioth in Judea.
Many of these men were called from their fishing boats off the Sea of Galilee. During their three years of apprenticeship they learned to give speeches, manage huge crowds and adjust gradually to an entirely different mode of life. Each morning they would awaken expecting new and fascinating events, orchestrated by their miracle-working Leader.
Together they traveled the entire length of the country, and became familiar with Jerusalem and its massive Temple, protecting stone wall and winding streets. They learned the ways of the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, with their varied political, legal and religious leanings. But always they walked in and were shielded by lengthening shadow of their fearless Master.
When Jesus was captured, they suddenly found themselves frightened and weak. Fear of the volatile Jerusalem mob caused Peter to swear “I do not know the man.” Judas also, pulled more by avarice than loyalty, here decided to end his life in suicide. It was this same city with its vying tensions and frenzied crowds that brought Jesus to His painful death.
Now in today’s Gospel that all seems to be far behind them. The men from Galilee are back on their favorite lake, doing what they did three years earlier – fishing those blue, enchanted waters. It was almost as though they had never left, but the first chapter of Christianity had been written and they had witnessed every move.
Chapter two begins on this warm spring morning with the risen Jesus calling them from the fishing boats for the second time. He invites them to breakfast on the beach with a calm pastoral setting as a background. Here they are asked to make their commitments as leaders of the newly founded Church. Their baptisms have been completed and confirmation day is only a few weeks away. They must decide, once and for all, between the Church and the fishing boat.
We see Peter making his triple profession of love and hear his future fate of crucifixion. The others also pledge their lifelong loyalty to Jesus and once again the abandoned fishing boats are left tied to the piers. Soon they will leave their beloved north country for their fiery Pentecostal confirmation in Jerusalem; then on to their mission – wise, Spirit-filled and beyond intimidation.
Note: Adapted from Rev. James McKarns, GO TELL EVERYONE – A Commentary on the SUNDAY READINGS Cycles A-B-C, Makati, Philippines: 1985, St. Paul Publications, pages 216-217.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith in You and Your power to intervene in my life. Come powerfully, Lord, to deal with the greatest problems that I have right now. Transform them, Lord. Transform me too. And draw me closer to you. Amen.
Jakarta, 7 April 2016
A Christian Pilgrim