After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 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 after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many 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 some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped 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, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish 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 fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.This was now the third time that Jesus appeared 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.” Jesus 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.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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.
Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
This is one of my favorite Gospels; in it, Jesus reassures his followers and even cooks a meal for them. Several of “the eleven”, led by Peter–who is apparently tempted to return to the life of a simple fisherman after no longer experiencing the Risen Jesus–encounter Jesus, although they do not immediately recognize him. It’s as if the Evangelist John is aware of how Peter was called in the Gospel of Luke. Early in his ministry, after those he is about to call have had an unsuccessful night of fishing, Jesus rewards Peter and his friends with a huge catch of fish (Luke 5: 5ff).
In John’s account here, Peter again is unsuccessful, and the stranger on the shore suggests where to toss their net and allows Peter once again to experience a huge catch. At this point, the disciple the Lord loves simply informs Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter is reassured and his despair disappears.
Each of us at times needs that same reassurance, to be brought back to the Lord who knows us so well by means of an experience that might replicate what brought us to faith in him in the first place. God continues to call us to faith and to repentance, even when –at times – we need help to recognize that call.
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, SJ, serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu in University Heights, OH.
The Lord is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. The Lord is just in all his ways, and king in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call on him in truth.
—From Psalm 145
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