Weekend of 14 April 2016

Third Sunday of Easter | Year C

John 21:1-19

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.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ he answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know 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 replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep,’ then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’

I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
But when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt around you
and take you where you would rather not go.’
In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’



 After the trauma of the crucifixion and the wonder of the resurrection, there must have been constant talking and speculating among the disciples. After the mental and emotional overload of all that had happened, it must have been a great relief to hear Peter propose that they do something very familiar and normal. “I’m going fishing,” he said.

Catching nothing must have also been a familiar situation, so the disciples may not have been too dismayed about it. The therapy was being out in the boat on the lake doing the physical work of fishing, which did not require emotional energy and allowed them to concentrate on something else for a while.

And then came Jesus. He walked into the middle of the therapy for their overloaded minds, their ordinary and familiar activity of fishing , and offered them first, a spot-on fishing tip, and then breakfast on the beach. For Peter that was followed by a deep and healing encounter, which must have alleviated the cutting pain of knowing he had denied Jesus during the turmoil of the passion.

When our minds and emotions are overloaded it is very good to do something ordinary and familiar, particularly if there is a physical element to it or it helps another person. It gives us space and occupies a mind in turmoil. It rests an aching heart. We can worry away at our wounds and hurts, and in the process actually make them worse. Going out of ourselves, leaving our wounds alone in order to do something else, can provide the space for Jesus to walk into our lives in a way he can’t when we are pre-occupied with our pain or distress.

We all have an equivalent to going fishing. We need to know what it is and to do it when grief, hurt or bewilderment overwhelms us.