This week we hear of great readings in those early days of the post-resurrection period. In our first reading we hear of a very STRONG Peter along with the other apostles. These early leaders of our church are being questioned by the officials of the Jewish faith. The Jewish leaders are trying to intimidate the apostles. Peter and the others are not being at all affected by what the Sanhedrin is trying to do. These apostles are convicted in their faith. It is that conviction that gives them the strength to stand up in a time that seems rather daunting.
It is our gospel today that shows how things moved on immediately following the resurrection. The brothers went back to what they knew how to do. These regular men went back to the only thing that was normal after all the excitement, drama and confusion of the last days. They went fishing and came up with nothing. Their empty nets were a wonderful symbol of the emptiness they must have felt BECAUSE of their denial of their friend and teacher Jesus.
Once again, Jesus comes on the scene in a very familiar way. This time, Jesus is calling out to them and inviting them to cast their nets wider and farther for a GREAT catch. They listen to him and haul in a large number of fish. We may ask the question, “Why are they so specific on the number of onehundred-fifty-three fish?” One answer is that John’s gospel is filled with great symbolism. St. Jerome is credited for making the connection that at the time of Jesus it was thought that there were only 153 different species of fish known to humanity. The number of fish shows a perfect universal connection to the whole world. Jesus has Peter and the others casting the net to the whole world and bringing the whole world to the feast with Jesus presiding. This breakfast at the Sea of Tiberius is an invitation for all to participate in the Eucharist. This meal provided by Jesus is just one aspect of this story.
When they are finished eating breakfast, the conversation between Jesus, the chief shepherd and Peter the first Pope is all about reconciliation and love. Peter is being forgiven for the three times he denied Jesus as he stood by the charcoal fire in the courtyard of the high priest on that Holy Thursday night. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” and three times Peter says, “Yes, I love you.” When Jesus then tells Peter to tend and feed MY sheep and MY lambs we see the absolution of Peter’s sins by Jesus AND the direction of the papacy for years to come.
Recently Pope Francis paid a visit to this country and Mexico. It is with great joy and excitement that we see the current living out of the command by Jesus to, “Feed MY sheep and tend MY lambs.” I am very excited to read and hear things about our new pope and the ways he is trying to see things perhaps in a new light. Pope Francis’ washing of the feet on Holy Thursday including women AND others not before considered speaks of breaking from a tradition of only washing the feet of men is truly heartening. I would like to invite and encourage anyone interested to check out the Vatican website link to look up what our Pope and our Church have there for all to read at:
l Or, the website for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe:
Or, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops:
All of these sites are GREAT resources for the sheep to really know more about what the shepherds are doing.
Peter and the early Church were given the task to cast the net to the whole world. Pope Francis is taking that command seriously and reaching out. Perhaps this week we might check out the Vatican website or these other sites and reach out to those who are just waiting to be invited into a relationship with our God.
May God bless us all today and always!