Dear Followers of the Risen Lord,
John 21:1-19 is proclaimed on this Third Sunday of Easter. The Risen Christ is revealed at the seashore, in the disappointment of a day of fishing where the disciples had caught nothing. The disciples are going about their usual day. The sun was hot; the nets were empty; their livelihood was at risk. I suspect their hearts were also still grieving because they had anticipated following Jesus, bringing them security and strength. Here on the seashore, everything seems lost, everything.
So, Jesus appears to them. Their hearts do not recognize him at first. He invites Peter and the others to cast the net one more time into the sea, this time on the right side of the boat. Out of desperation, they do what he has asked. Then, their net becomes full of fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Peter jumps into the water and claims the presence of Jesus. He is full of belief; he is full of love; he is once again, full of hope.
Then they have breakfast. There is something else that needs healing. Peter, who had denied Jesus three times before Jesus died, is offered a moment of new life. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” He asks three times. It is an opportunity to unwind his denial. Peter is given a new opportunity to respond to the one who will bring him new life. After Peter affirms his love for Jesus, then Jesus reveals a deeper command. Jesus says to him, “Feed my lambs.” These simple words become a mission statement for Peter. These words become an incredible command of Jesus to make sure the weary, the lost, the unforgiven, and the hopeless all know that they are part of the flock of Jesus Christ. This call to service echoes Jesus’ command to wash feet, to serve beyond measure, to cast a net further, deeper, and more often into the sea of humanity. Peter is being asked to leave everything behind yet one more time, to serve in ways he least expects.
We too live in the center of such conflict and awareness. On many days, we cast our hearts into life and experience nothing. We may work on our own and nothing comes of it. We may even deny our faith in the miracle of Jesus’ love. We may ignore our own call to share our gifts and offer substance to those around us. We may come to the end of our day completely empty.
In this Easter season, the scriptures invite us deeper into our commitment to follow Jesus. The miracles and desires we hope for may very well be in front of us. In the Resurrection, we are to open our hearts and experience a deeper, more abundant love from the person of Jesus Christ. We are also being called to serve him in ways that seem impossible. We cannot ignore our call or hide from his invitation to love, feed, and serve.
We are not alone in realizing the Resurrected Christ. Our Church depends on us to dive into the deep end of our commitments and learn how to love. The Easter season opens doors, offers us abundance, and helps us get over our fear of offering even our burdens and sins into his loving care. The disciples pulled the full net to shore. I pray that every day, we may experience the abundance God has for our lives of prayer, dedication, and service. The disciples were slow to recognize Jesus. How are we doing in the Easter season? Do we truly see him? Are we willing to follow him?
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor