APRIL 9. FRIDAY AFTER EASTER. JOHN. 21. 1-14.
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.
It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.
As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.
Here yet again we have Christ appearing to various apostles or disciples and each and every time we are told how they did not recognise him? One explanation for this is it reveals a simple truth; - Christ is always close to us in our daily lives, even though we cannot “see” him or recognise him.
This had also been revealed a few days earlier at the Last Supper when Christ had told them; - “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home in him!” This truth is not easily understood, but it is a teaching made clear a number of times in the Gospels, and indicates the level of intimacy God wants with his people.
This intimacy is further illustrated in today’s Gospel when we ponder the scene before us of Christ standing on the shore watching his fishing disciples return without a catch; - but when they follow his instructions, they have a catch that tests the limits of their net. Then, on reaching shore they find Christ has a fire burning, bread prepared, and fish ready to be eaten.
“Come and have breakfast” is the invitation they then receive from their teacher, who had only recently been crucified and buried, and he invites them to cook some of their own fish on the fire he had prepared. One can only imagine the joy they all would have experienced at this intimate gathering of the newly risen Christ with his Apostles on the shoreline?
The message of the reading is one of God’s intimate love, and his desire to care for his people. There can be little doubt, while sharing each other’s company, the disciples would have quickly realised Christ, by his resurrection, had proved he was Divine and, by this meal on the shore, he was bearing witness to his Love; - an intimate love and concern that continues to this day.
How easily we “forget” or “overlook” the truth that, today, we continue to have access to the “meal” and “gathering” Christ has prepared for his friends; - around the Eucharistic Table!