Today’s Gospel is, in part, about recognition. We are our own autonomous selves and yet we are linked to all of those around us. We are inspired and influenced by our loved ones and friends, and in turn we inspire and influence them. As the saying goes, nobody is an island. Through the grace of God and the waters of baptism, we are also members of Christ who lives inside us, and who continually invites us to live according to his will.
The disciples didn’t recognise Jesus and only after a while did his identity shine through his actions, after they spent a little time with him. He made suggestions that bore fruit, and the way that he spoke was also a give away. None of them felt bold enough to directly asked who he was, but they didn’t need to because they knew that he was Jesus. We can assume from this that Jesus did not physically look like the Jesus they knew.
Jesus presents to us in different ways, in unexpected forms and places. It is a given that we may see Jesus in those who dedicate themselves to God: in our priests, our faith community, our nearest and dearest. But we may not expect that Jesus will come to us through our enemies, for example. He constantly challenges us by presenting in ways that we do not anticipate. The disciples were not expecting to meet Jesus at that moment. And we do not know when we will meet him, either. Just as he told us that we will be known by our fruits, so will we know when Jesus presents to us in others.
Jesus asked the disciples to be leaders, to feed his sheep, and to do so in love. This message is for us, too. To attain this, we needn’t be bishops or priests; we can lead from the very waters of baptism, and live by example. That is what Jesus did, working for his Father’s Kingdom in all that he did during his earthly ministry. Central to our life as members of Christ is our receptivity for God in our hearts. We must remain open and ready to receive the word of God, and to respond in love. It is through such receptivity that we not only feed our sheep, but are ourselves fed ‘as’ sheep, for this is a two-way process. We can say for sure that we shall be surprised, overturned, perhaps exasperated by the means that God comes to us. Perhaps we may surprise others, too, in the way that we show God to them. But, by remaining open, we shall be like the disciples who were able to receive Jesus on the shore and, by doing so, follow him beyond the resurrection.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the Gospel according to John 21:1-19
Glory to you, O Lord.
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together.
Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.‘
They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.‘
They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.
It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?‘
And when they answered, ‘No‘, he said,
‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.‘
So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in.
The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter,
‘It is the Lord.‘
At these words ‘It is the Lord‘, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.
As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it.
‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken.
Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’
None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?‘ they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.
After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter,
‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’
He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?‘
He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.‘
Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.‘
Then he said to him a third time,
‘Simon son of John, do you love me?‘
Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?‘ and said,
‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you,’
Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.
‘I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’
In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.