May 5, 2019 Third Sunday of Easter Fr Jim miller

Reading 1 ACTS 5:27-32, 40B-41

Responsorial Psalm PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

  1. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Reading 2 REV 5:11-14

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Christ is risen, creator of all;
    he has shown pity on all people.

Gospel JN 21:1-19 

Third Sunday of Easter—May 4 & 5, 2019

  Last week we read from the conclusion of John’s gospel.  Today we read from the epilogue, the chapter that follows the conclusion.  Scholars refer to John 21 as the epilogue in part because it is markedly different from the preceding chapters in some vocabulary and in style.  In fact, it is so different that it was likely written by a different author to address, in part, realities that had emerged in the decades following the initial composition of the gospel.   This passage still bears all the marks of John’s symbolic writing.

  The story begins at night.   Jesus had died on the cross and had been buried.   What were the Apostles to do?   They returned to what they knew; they were fishermen and they fished all night.   There were seven of them:  Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two more disciples.   After fishing all night they had caught nothing but as the light started to break through the sunrise; Jesus calls out to them from the shore, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”   When they answer no Jesus calls out “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”   The disciples don’t know who is calling out from the shore but they obeyed the man and cast their net over the right side of the boat and their net was filled with fish!   At this point John realizes that it is Jesus on the shore and tells Peter, “It is the Lord”.  Peter jumps into the water and heads for shore ahead of the boat and encounters Jesus at a charcoal fire with a fish and bread on it.   Remember it was at a charcoal fire in the courtyard where Peter denied Jesus three times.  Jesus asks for some of the fish to have enough for all of them to have breakfast and Peter dragged the net ashore full of fish, 153 large fish and the net was not torn!!   What is the significance of 153 fish?   Some people suggest that they always counted the fish to see how successful they were.   Of all of the theories surrounding what this number might mean, the most popular is from St. Jerome who postulates that at the time of the gospel writing it was believed there were precisely 153 species of fish in the world..  By including all 153 within the net we see the radical inclusivity of the new covenant.  All the people of the world are invited into the net of the church.  And even if it seems like this “net” might burst, it will hold; we need not fear inviting everyone.

 This Sunday we are inviting seven young people to receive Holy Communion for the first time.   Keep them in your prayers.   They won’t be receiving bread and fish like the disciples in the gospel today who received the Last Breakfast but bread and wine like Jesus gave the disciples at the Last Supper.

 Sometimes it’s easy to imagine the saints and disciples as those who had it all figured out.  But today’s gospel reminds us otherwise.  Even now, a time after the resurrection, the disciples are fishing.  They do not seem to be about the business of preaching or teaching.  Instead, they have gone back to what they were doing before they met Jesus. 

 Jesus encounter with Peter after Peter had denied him three times is interesting in that Jesus does not harangue or scold Peter for the weakness he showed during the passion.  Instead, Jesus asks him three times whether he loves him.  And three times Peter says yes, though clearly becoming a bit agitated by the third time.  But in so doing, Jesus rehabilitates Peter and gives each subsequent Christian the hope and promise of rehabilitation when we fall short too.  The saints and disciples were real human beings with faults and shortcomings.  Jesus did not choose perfect human beings.  Rather, he chose disciples, those who would follow him.  And he chose us too.  Our task is to follow.  When we fall short Jesus will be there for us too.

  When we fall short what do we do?   We go to confession where we admit we have sinned and we ask forgiveness.   I picture it like writing our sins on a white board and then asking Jesus to forgive us and he wipes the board clean.   Simon Peter denied Jesus three times but he was given the opportunity to rebuild his relationship with Jesus by professing his love three times and be given the charge to feed the lambs, tend the sheep and feed the sheep.  What is God asking you to do?


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