Last week the disciples were locked away – together in fear, distress, grief and anxiety.
Jesus came and stood among them. Shalom! Peace be with you. He showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. He breathes the breathe of new life, the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them. He prays for them and commissions them to share in his work of mercy.
Yet, as extraordinary as this was, it seems that it was not enough.
Our passage this week continues directly on from last week. It’s some time later. We don’t know how long. ‘After this’ is all the text says. A few days. A week. Two? Has Jesus appeared to them again. Other texts indicate that he spent a lot of time with the disciples during this period. Opening their slow minds to the richness of the biblical story. Teaching them all they needed to know to survive in the big bad world.
This week, Simon Peter, the fisherman, announces that he is going fishing.
6 of the others announce that they will go too. Not fishing for souls. Not making disciples of all the nations. Not baptising and teaching. Actual fishing. Back to safety. Back to what they know and love. Back to what they are good at.
Back also to failure and frustration. They work hard all night long and catch – nothing. Zilch. Nada.
They work hard all night long and they are still empty. Fruitless. Lifeless.
Then the scene shifts. It is no longer night. There is the first hint of dawn. The light begins to grow on the eastern shore of the lake. And in that feint light there is the silhouette of a stranger on the shore. As the light grows brighter, the love of one of this group also grows brighter.
Have you caught any fish yet? Nope. No hope.
Chuck out the net on the right side. Suddenly there’s movement in the water. The nets begin to tug and pull. The whole boat begins to rock.
The disciple that Jesus loves is the first to recognise who the stranger on the shore is: it is the Lord!
Peter is not going to miss his chance. He was full of bravado in the final days and hours of Jesus’ life – but that has all been for naught. He lashed out with his sword. He tried to take the fight to those Roman swine. But it wasn’t enough. And when they realised the situation was hopeless, he ran away with all the rest. Later he ran away and denied he even knew Jesus.
Now, he was going to jump in and head towards Jesus first. Even though he’s naked, stripped for work, he pulls a cloak around himself and jumps into the water to head for the shore. He needs this encounter. He needs the transformation that only love can offer him.
First Reading ‡ Acts 5:27-32.40-41
We are witnesses of these words, and so is the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial ‡ Psalm 29:2.4-6.11-13
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Second Reading ‡ Revelation 5:11-14
The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, wealth, glory, and blessing.
Gospel [longer form] ‡ John 21:1-19
Jesus stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.