Two weeks ago, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus. During these last two weeks, the liturgy provided us with the stories of His interaction with His disciples after the Resurrection: Mary at the tomb, the disciples behind locked doors, the disciples on the road to Emmaus and now the disciples fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.
Today’s gospel seems to have two stories, one of fishing and another of questionable love. How are they related? What is the common thread? Peter is an important part of both stories. In the first, as the disciples are wandering around the shore, he says to his friends, “I’m going fishing.” And they respond with, “We will go with you.” They fish and catch no fish, a night of work ends in failure, someone calls from the shore asking about their catch. The person on shore tells them to cast their nets over the right side of the boat and they fill their nets. There is an abundance. With this, John recognizes Jesus. When Peter hears that it is Jesus on shore, he does what I find to be strange, he puts on his clothes and jumps into the water (most people today would take off their clothes before they jump into the water). He was eager to encounter Jesus again.
They fish all night and are unsuccessful; Jesus comes along, and they have so many fish they have a difficult time bringing them to shore. (Another strange point here, who counted the fish (153) and why? Is it a sign of abundance?)
Jesus invites them to breakfast, fish and bread. We are told that no one asked who he was because they recognized it was Jesus.
The Gospel tells us that, after breakfast, Jesus questions Peter, asking three times “Do you love me?” We usually relate this to the triple denial of Peter. After Peter’s response each time, Jesus tells him what he must do: “Feed my Lambs.” And then againHe invites Peter to “Follow Me”. There is an abundance. Jesus again shows abundance. An abundance of love.
How are these two stories related? Both touch on failure: the failure of the disciples to catch any fish and the failure of Peter in his denial of Jesus. But there are also two examples of abundance: the nets are full to the point of breaking, Peter expresses his love of Jesus, and Jesus responds with His abundant love.
Why are these two stories important? They are an example of the gift of abundance.
How do you accept the abundant love of Jesus?
How do you share that love in abundance?
Jesus never gives up on us.