Third Sunday of Easter – Year C
May 01, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs, CA
Deacon Tammy Fuqua
Acts 5:27-32; 40b-41 | Psalm 30:2;4-6;11-13
Revelation 5:11-14 | John 21:1-19
We are on the third Sunday of Easter. And when you break down today’s gospel reading, it has quite a bit of symbolism in it. Let’s start with Peter. We have some words from him that might suggest that he is not altogether happy, and he is not altogether happy with himself. We hear him say, “I am going fishing”. So, what is wrong with going fishing? Most people would enjoy some time out on the water catching fish. But I think what Peter is saying is, I’ve lost sight of my vocation or, worse yet, I’m walking away from that vocation. Peter left EVERYTHING to follow and serve Jesus. Now, Jesus is gone. He is not here to guide the disciples. Also, we remember the Passion narrative during Holy Week, where Peter denied Jesus three times before his death. He is still holding on to all that guilt of the denial. There is no doubt Peter felt bad about himself and with that carried a heavy burden on his heart. Think of how you feel when you hold on to the guilt of your actions – you might become depressed, maybe have some anger, carry resentment, Peter just plainly felt lost. And Peter’s like, well, I may as well go back to what I know. Peter is going back to what he was doing before Jesus came into his life – go fishing. Peter has lost his purpose.
So, Peter and the disciples take the boat out in the darkest of night, and what happens? They catch nothing. And I imagine this did not help Peter’s mood. They come back into shore as dawn is breaking. And I can envision the scene, a beautiful sunrise along the shore. And who is standing there, but Jesus. But they don’t know it’s him. Even when Jesus speaks to them – “Children, have you caught anything”? They still are not sure it’s him. And Jesus tells them to cast out their nets. Remember the last time he asked them to cast out their nets, Peter was pretty darn skeptical. This time, there was no hesitation. They immediately threw out the net and they caught so many fish, they had a difficult time pulling in the net.
What did this do? It allowed the disciples to recognize it was truly Jesus in their midst. I mean, Peter is so excited by this revelation that he jumps into the water to get to him faster. I mean, wouldn’t you be elated to see someone you thought had died?
And let’s look at this a little deeper. In the dark, they caught nothing. In the light, a whole net full of fish. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in what? —— The dark. They will not be walking in the dark. But what they will have is the light of life. See, John was trying to tell us that any venture undertaken in darkness is useless. Darkness in this context is a way of saying you are losing sight of God. You are going into the dark. Come back to the light. And so, we have the vision of dawn breaking, we come back to the light. And with the light they gain many fish.
We see something else in this reading, a charcoal fire. When the disciples come back into shore, there is a charcoal fire with fish and bread on it. You may be asking, why is that a big deal? Well, the last time we saw a charcoal fire, Jesus had been arrested and while he is being interrogated, Peter is outside standing in the shadows. He is curious, he wants to hear what is going on, what was happening to his friend, Jesus. He is also very fearful of being recognized. It’s cold and he joins a group standing around what? Not just any fire, but a charcoal fire. And I believe we all know what happens next. Peter is asked three questions:
The cock crowed. Three questions around a charcoal fire.
So, we now have Jesus at the shore with Peter, around another charcoal fire. He asks him something he has asked him before, “do you love me?”
The third time being asked, Peter is distressed. I am sure this reminds him of the time he had been asked these questions before and his denial in the courtyard, when he denied even knowing Jesus.
And Peter says to him,
The first words Jesus said to the disciples after his resurrection was, Peace be with you. And If I were Jesus raised from the dead, I might be tempted to come back and say to the disciples, “Peace be with you” well, except you Peter, over there denying me, not once, not twice, BUT three times. Thanks a lot friend. No, he does not do that. That is a very human, ego filled response. This is a story about Christ looking at a human being like Peter, Peter is human like the rest of us. We all make mistakes, we all say things we regret, others say things to us that they regret. And what happens? Instead of forgiving them we find ourselves holding grudges or pushing people out of our lives. We can learn from the actions of Jesus. He forgave Peter for denying him three times. Peter is human, he made a mistake. In his fear and anxiety of that moment around the charcoal fire, he made a mistake. And Jesus forgave him.
But this is not just a story about forgiveness. It’s also about healing. Peter was weighed down by the guilt of his denial of Jesus. We cannot allow past sins and failures to weigh us down and cripple our journey of faith. Jesus pursues Peter. He is reminding him, confirming to him that he has a vocation – a vocation to feed his sheep. A vocation to bring them His message! But not only bring the good news, but to care for them.
We too have a vocation. We have a calling as disciples of Christ to spread the good news to everyone we come in contact with. Even when we deny the Lord, and we begin to run, it’s God that pursues us and brings us back to our faith. He will not let us go. And this is because we all live with a piece of God in our hearts that he planted in us at our birth.
We are called to do many things in life. And whatever that may be, don’t let it take you in the opposite direction of the light. Jesus is pursuing you. He is bringing you back to that original calling. We need to receive His forgiveness in our lives and be a part of feeding others. Jesus pursued Peter and as a result of this, we are fed today. I think it is a beautiful image that one of the last things Jesus did before he ascended was, he made sure that you and I would be fed with the body and blood of Christ. Something we get to receive every Sunday. But not only this, we also receive His word. This is just how important Peter is and his response to Jesus to return to the call. Without this, we would not be walking in the light of God today. Instead, we would be trying to feel our way in the dark. Thank God Peter responded to the call.
And that my brothers and sisters is the gospel of the Lord.