WelCom May 2019:
3rd Sunday of Easter, John 21:1-14
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 realise 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 realised 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.
3rd Sunday of Easter
‘An exposing moment of radical conversion’
A reflection on John 21:1-19
Within the Church we are in the midst of a time of death; and a time of grief and disillusionment as we are all effected by the embarrassment and humiliation of recent public failures. As the shock and pain of betrayal recedes, perhaps like the seven of Galilee, we are in danger of returning to the same old, same old, assuming our usual patterns of behaviour – returning to the safety of boats and the nets – labouring so hard to no avail in the dark.
This gospel cautions that our old methods, of institutional organisation and patterns of ministry, will yield no catch, only futility.
In the light of dawn, Jesus calls to his disciples, children – little ones, cast in a new way! Go to the wrong side, turn it upside down, foolishly start from the other end – that is the inverted pattern of the kingdom that brings Good News!
It is the beloved, the one who remains within an intimate relationship with Jesus who is able to first recognise the presence of the Lord in the Sign of the great catch – perhaps the desperation of failure unplugs Peter’s ears to hear, to listen and attend to the Beloved. This is a moment of absolute freedom – leaping – plunging in faith – abandoning the confines of his boat of his and own agenda, his own institution. It is an exposing moment of radical conversion.
The risen Lord awaits Peter before the charcoal fire, where Peter must face the truth of his personal betrayal and denial that so wounded the body of Christ. The risen Lord reveals to Peter a new paradigm – an atonement of love. The pattern of love for Peter and the Christian community is to tend, feed, nourish the lambs, the little ones, the wounded, the broken, the traumatised, the vulnerable, the abused, the marginalised, the ones whose voices have been silenced and ignored for so long.
That was the Lord’s command at the edge of Galilee and it is the same challenge for us if there is to be a genuine Easter season of new growth and hope.
Kate Bell is a cathechist at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Parish, Palmerston North.