The Third Sunday
There is a 'back-and-forth' spirit in today's readings. In
the First Reading, Peter and the other apostles are back in court after having
been sent forth to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. In the Gospel,
Peter and the other apostles go back to their fishing and Jesus calls them
and sends Peter forth to extend Jesus' teachings.
We can pray also with the interior sense we have, flowing from
the Sacraments, with our being sought for and then sent. To whom are
What we hear in our First Reading are the jealous leaders of
the religious establishment confronting Peter and the others with their being
disobedient to the previous orders to be silent.
After reviewing how Jesus had been silenced by his being hanged
at the hands of these very leaders, Peter and the other apostles leave in
high spirits, because they have been proven worthy by being treated in the
same way as Jesus, except not physically, not yet.
There are some quite touching scenes in today's Gospel. The first is that of Peter and his companions who decide to return to the life from which Jesus had called them, fishing. Jesus, who had told them at his washing of their feet that apart from him they could do nothing, do nothing for their all night fishing. When it was already dawn the great Fisherman appears and catches them according to what catches fisherman, a great catch of fish.
The second scene is a reunion at the breakfast table. Peter
who had warmed himself by a charcoal fire while betraying Jesus, is invited
to bring some of his catch to be cooked on the charcoal fire where Jesus
was already cooking fish and bread. This is a social awkward situation,
but Jesus breaks the tension by distributing the bread and fish to them.
Earlier in their relationship, Jesus had taken loaves and fish to distribute
to them and many others. This scene ends with that symbolic gesture
of reconciliation. They know who he is in the sharing of the bread.
The final scene focuses in on the recommitment of Peter and the
missioning of Peter by Jesus. Peter is invited to follow Jesus once
more and this time for keeps. This scene ends with Peter's following
Jesus to a life which will imitate that of Jesus even to the manner of his
When going to visit the doctor, I make sure I am wearing squeaky
clean underwear. When going to the dentist I make sure I have flossed
and really scrubbed my molars. When found, we want to be found at our
best. Jesus had the delightful and delighting habit of meeting people
where they would rather not be met at all. A fisher-person does not
want anybody to ask about how many fish have been caught if the stringer
is empty. Jesus meets his beloved disciples quite fishless and quite
After the Resurrection, Jesus went about collecting his beloved
women and men friends and usually in the social and spiritually awkward settings.
He continues doing the same thing in our lives. He does not check
the under garments, but the inner. He does not check the molars for
cavities, but asks what we are doing with our emptiness. He emptied
himself by living his whole life even to his last. He emptied his tomb
to fill our empty boats and live with his Eucharistic presences.
What he comes to offer us is our lives as bread for others and
the mission to follow him to where we do not know. The emptiness of
Peter's boat was the last experience of emptiness in his life. Jesus
continues meeting us where we would rather not be met. Jesus continues calling
us to where we would rather not go and that is, into the mystery of his love.
"Away grief's grasping joyless days, dejection."
G.M. Hopkins, S.J.
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