Friday within Easter Octave, April 9
Acts 4:1-12 / John 21:1-14
They catch 153 fish; The net didn't break.
A preacher was fond of the technique of dividing his sermon into several major points. For example, he'd begin by referring to the "five smooth stones" that David used to defeat Goliath. Then he'd divide his sermon into five points. Or he'd begin by referring to the "seven days of creation" and then divide his sermon into seven points.
One day his congregation nearly had joint heart failure when he began by referring to the "153 fish" that Peter caught in his net. They were afraid his sermon was going to have 153 points. Scholars suggest that the 153 fish stand for the number of nations of the world, which ancient historians placed at 153. (another explanation below - as 153 kinds of fish) Peter's net stands for the Church, which is able to embrace all the nations of the world without breaking.
What are we doing to help the Church embrace all the nations of the world? The Church exists for the dual purpose of "gathering in" and "sending out."
Government machinery or police under political pressure occasionally works fast. We saw it in the case of the two Sacred Heart sisters with the candidates at Jhansi Railway Station recently. They were pulled out of the train accusing them of conversion. Later, they were not only released but the same police accompanied them to their destination for their own safety. There are also similar instances in other places. Scarcely had Peter and John healed the lame man, had gone into the temple and started to preach, than the captain of the temple with priests and Sadducees turned up to arrest them on two counts: they taught the people and proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus. Many authorities think it is not good for them to let people think. The uneducated are easier to govern. The Sadducees were of course especially excited when they taught the resurrection. They did not believe in life after death. Whenever a weak sore point is touched, people get excited. For Peter and John there came now an overpowering joy. Not very long-ago Peter had been in the courtyard of the high priest and had denied even knowing Jesus, and now he is in their very presence and he tells them: Christ is the corner stone; without him the whole structure of your religion will collapse. Without him there is no salvation. They were especially furious that since the cured man stood beside them, they could not deny the facts. This courage and this speech were the work of the Holy Spirit. God can give us this courage and make us proclaim.
IMPORTAN POINTS TO NOTE IN THE GOSPEL:
1. They went fishing: Jesus doesn't stop them from doing what they are good at - fishing. Continue doing what you're good at: gardening, sports, music, arts, computer, other creative things
2. Try fishing on the "right" side: But change the method or style or goal of your using your talents according to the times, seasons, places and situation. Let your creativity and gifts used differently.
3. Bring some of the fish to me: He'll always sustain you - with the bread. But don' forget to bring some of the "catch" to him. It belongs to the congregation, Church or people of God.
4. Then you would never ask, "Who are you?" You'd recognize him because the "catch" didn't come from your efforts alone. But from the brace, strength and the gift of the Lord.
Before Jesus sends his apostles to the whole world, he sends them home. Most of them will never see it again. They do not know as yet all that is going to be. They go about their usual work. Peter makes the suggestion - Let's go fishing. Jesus stands on the shore as a hungry stranger. Jesus had told them that they would have to recognise him as hungry and as a stranger. Jesus gives them success in their ordinary life as fishermen. From the shore he could see the shoal of fish at starboard They caught 153. The ancient zoologists believed there were 153 different kinds of fish. The Church will be made up of different kinds of people, but the net will not break. This is a sign of the universality. But they are all big fish. He had already made the breakfast for them. After all he had come into the world to serve, not to lord over them. The most important thing for them was: He was at the shore to welcome them.
All evangelists underline the disciples’ difficulty of recognizing the Risen Lord. First, they do not realize that he is there, and that he is just like a stranger; then, usually as a consequence of a word or action, it dawns on them that it is the Lord; and those who love him most – today John – usually recognize him first. The Risen Lord is quite different in appearance from the Jesus whom they had known before his death and resurrection. Though their faith in the resurrection was difficult and slow, still it is the heart of the apostolic preaching: the risen Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith and our lives. As with the apostles, he stays with us when we are toiling.
In the midst
of a changing world, and it is changing in every sense of the word, there are
many other things that remain the same, or at least they retain some
familiarity. The appearance may remain the same or that it is familiar, but
internally things may have changed. Conversely, it can be a change in
appearance but nothing has changed internally. For the disciples in the gospel
passage, things have changed and yet some things have remained the same. Things
have changed, and changed drastically, ever since they encountered the Risen
Christ. But it seemed that the changing curve had plateaued off and they began
going back to what was familiar and to what life used to be. Maybe they were
unsure, after all that had happened, what to do next, and so the best thing to
do for the moment was to go back to fishing. And just when they thought it was
safe to go back to the water, the winds of change started blowing for yet
another encounter with the Risen Christ. And from then on, as we heard in the
1st reading, how the renewed change had led Peter and John to proclaim the
Risen Christ. As for us, Easter had come and gone. Whether we had prepared
ourselves spiritually during Lent, that is already over. Whether there was any
change in us during Lent or at the celebration of Easter, that is already a
side issue. Easter is about rising and changing. The Risen Christ will keep
coming at us until something happens in us.
May the grace of Easter bring about a change in us so that we will dare to go out into the deep water and witness to Christ by being fishers of men.
Our God and Father, through our Risen Lord, your Son, Jesus Christ, you have given us a message of hope and a person to live for. Free our faith from triviality and routine and fill us with his Spirit of courage, that we may learn to live with the insecurities of the change of renewal ever-demanded by the Gospel and by the needs of the times. May our Christian living bear witness to the name of him by whom we are saved, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, Amen.