Gospel Reflection May 5 – Sr. Teresa

Sunday, May 5

Third Sunday of Easter

John 21: 1 – 19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being 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?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a 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.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

I don’t know about you, but when my life seems to be under a great deal of pressure or if I feel like it is falling apart, I have to do something I am very comfortable doing. It is always something I have done many times before and I am good at it. It is always an attempt to put some normalcy or “control” into the situation.

I wonder if this is what is happening in this resurrection appearance story. When we left Mary Magdalen at the tomb, she was told to go tell the others to meet him in Galilee. The others did just that. This is the only appearance of Jesus in Galilee. Peter and the others with him were mostly likely confused. Their lives have been turned upside down by Jesus and the resurrection. It does not seem like Peter has actually seen the Risen Lord at this point, although he has heard stories of his appearances. Jesus is there, then he is not there. “Let’s go fishing!” Peter proclaims. Peter wants to do what he knows how to do. The others who are with him get into the boat with him and they fish all night with nothing to show for their efforts. Peter wants things to go back to the normal he was so familiar with at the time. He wants something to make sense in his life and to have some control of his life.

Don’t we all want that, especially after we have suffered the death of someone we love; after we have been away for a long time; or when something happens that has shaken up our life? We want things to be normal. We want to be able to make sense out of a situation that makes absolutely no sense. The truth is “that normal” will never be again. The truth is that things happen that make no sense, and we have to look at them with the eyes of faith. The old “normal” is gone, and we slowly begin to shape a “new normal” and we stand in the face of Great Mystery.

We are now into the third week of Easter. Often in a parish we breathe a liturgical sigh of relief and, after all the Lenten and Holy Week and Easter things are put away, we want to go back to normal. Maybe you, too, may have gone back to what your “normal” might be. Soon we will even name the Sundays as “ordinary time.” There is something about us that does not like things to be up in the air.

Yet, in this passage Jesus seems to teach us a different lesson. While he is waiting on the seashore, Jesus is grilling fish and getting bread ready for the disciples. Then Jesus, who is not a fisherman, tells the professional fisherman what to do and the result is more than they could have ever imagined. He calls out to them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Do something different! Trust my word and take a risk! Do something out of the ordinary! Peter does not recognize the man yelling out to them until “the beloved disciple” tells him that it is Jesus. You have to love Peter! He has not seen Jesus since he betrayed him three times but that does not keep him away. He jumps right out of the boat and swims ashore. What does it all have to do with us? We celebrated the great mystery of our faith – the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Have we just gone back to doing what we are comfortable doing? I have, but the more I think about it, I shouldn’t do that. Is Jesus telling me, telling us, that he wants us to spread his message. Spread his message by breaking out of our “normal,” risk doing something different to bring the Word of God to others. We may find ourselves in the same dilemma that the disciples faced. How does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ make a difference in your life?

Pope Francis said it best in his latest letter to youth: “Christ Lives!” “Whatever you do, do not become the sorry sight of an abandoned vehicle! Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions. Take risks, even if it means making mistakes. Don’t go through life anesthetized or approach the world like tourists. Make a ruckus! Cast out the fears that paralyze you, so that you don’t become young mummies. Live! Give yourselves over to the best of life! Open the door of the cage, go out and fly! Please, don’t take an early retirement.” We might add – “don’t go back to fishing”! Don’t go back to doing what you have always done as if the Resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen. Take a risk! Bring the Word of God to wherever you are at work, at play or at home. Jesus lives! and that makes all the difference.

Sister Teresa Tuite