Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Easter

John 21:1-19

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Joan Mary Brown

Published: May 05, 2019

Today’s Gospel is the appendix to the Gospel of John and opens with the words: “Later on Jesus showed himself again to the disciples…” We do not know where in the resurrection sequence this showing took place.
John tells us that it was by the sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: …
“What happened like this?”

Simon Peter called a meeting of the disciples, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and two others.  Simon Peter the rock upon whom Jesus said he would found his Church….Peter who had walked on water. Thomas whose doubt was followed by his beautiful act of faith in the risen Lord. Nathaniel who had asked, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” and who later proclaimed “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel.”  James and John, fishermen who had left their father to follow Jesus. John the beloved disciple who had rested his head on Jesus breast at the last supper. And two more disciples. Who might they be?

What happened?  Simon Peter announced that he was going fishing.  It was all over. Peter was turning the clock back. Life was going to return to normal as it had been before Jesus and they said “We will come with you.” It is amazing that these disciples, Peter and John who had raced to the empty tomb and seen Jesus eat grilled fish in the upper room. Doubting Thomas who had touched the risen, wounded Jesus and proclaimed him Lord and God, were behaving as if none of this had happened. Life is going to return to normal. How strange that those encounters with the risen Lord seem to be forgotten. Almost as if they had never been. Perhaps this is why what happened on the sea shore happened now.

They went out in the boat and caught nothing. A man on the shore whom they did not recognise, a stranger, asked if they had caught anything? They replied “Nothing”. The stranger then advised them to throw their nets out to starboard and by this time it was already light. So a complete turn around and in daylight. Things were never going to be the same again...

We know the rest. John recognized the Lord. Peter jumped overboard, they caught one hundred and fifty three fish. There was a charcoal fire with fish cooking upon it. A charcoal fire. The last time Peter had stood by a charcoal fire was in the courtyard of the High Priest where he had denied Jesus three times. By this charcoal fire Jesus said, “Come and eat” offering them bread and fish.” After they had eaten Jesus gave Peter the opportunity for threefold repentance and protestation of his love for him. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” All Jesus asks for is love. “Love one another as I love you.” Jesus, the shepherd of God’s flock now hands the role, the power of Shepherd to Peter...  Simon Peter is commissioned as shepherd of the flock of Christ. “Feed my lambs, look after my sheep … Feed my sheep.” And like the Good Shepherd Peter too will lay down his life for the Sheep. No, life would never be the same again.

Perhaps this appearance of Jesus on the sea shore is an appendix to John’s Gospel because it could happen anywhere at any time to anyone.

Each time we meet the stranger we are asked “Do you love me?” And the light dawns and we remember.

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