NB: Homilies on Palm Sunday, Easter, II Sunday of Easter, See Recent Posts.
Acts 5:27b-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
All the three readings of today place the emphasis on the necessity of our loyalty to God and our fidelity to Jesus. They tell us of our vocation and our mission to be at the service of the word and not to hesitate to proclaim our nearness to Jesus. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we have the Disciples of Jesus who preach in the temple with full courage and boldness and are ready to face sufferings happily for his sake. In the second reading taken from the book of Revelation John is telling us of the loyalty of many to the Lamb, symbolised in Jesus. In the Gospel we have miracle of the great catch at the Lake Tiberius. The disciples once discouraged totally because of the absence of Jesus and discovering that their hard labour provided no returns find everything in Jesus, which transforms them into his loyal disciples. Thus to be a genuine disciple of Jesus, it is not enough just to be “holy”, to be good but to have the fidelity, loyalty and determination to be with him particularly in the moment of suffering. In sharing the suffering of Jesus we also share in his glory.
Today’s First Reading narrates fact of preaching by the disciples of Jesus in the Temple. Indeed the Temple became an attractive place for them to preach the good news. While they were teaching the captain and the Temple police move to the place to arrest the disciples. They were taken before the Council and were accused for continuing to preach in the Name of Jesus even after the warnings they received. As leader of the group, Peter speaks on behalf of the disciples before the council. He courageously tells them: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” They show the authorities that the reason for their courage is the Resurrection of Jesus and the presence of the Spirit. Peter tells them that they were witnesses to the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, His glorious Resurrection and His ascension into Heaven. Secondly, they had the commission from Jesus to “Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” It was indeed an open challenge and at the same times a direct insult to the authorities. They were certainly furious at the reply of the apostles. They were flogged the normal forty strokes and then released. They had to bear the pain and yet Peter and the Apostles did rejoice. They rejoiced because in their eyes, they were considered worthy to have suffered dishonour for the sake of Jesus. Because of their pure and unshaken loyalty, they choose to suffer.
The Second Reading from the Book of Revelation calls us to be a witness to our faith with consistency and courage. In this reading we are told that John in his vision heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In this vision John sees Christ under the image of a lamb that is slain but now is the centre of worship and adoration of Angels and men. John sees a huge multitude of creatures thousands and thousands of them, surrounding Christ and singing his praises. His divinity which he emptied from himself in order to save mankind is now restored to him. He is considered worthy of all homage that all creatures can give him, the human beings of the past, present and future, and all the heavenly beings. The one who sits on the throne of God is the lamb, Christ, the God-man the object of our worship. The four living creatures and the Elders worship him and give him honour and glory for all eternity. These creatures in servitude were professing that all power, wealth, wisdom, might, honour, glory and blessing belongs to Jesus. John in this passage reminds us that every creature shall bow before the Lamb of God and give praise to him.
The Gospel of today continues the revelation of the Resurrected Jesus to the disciples. The disciples had seen the person of Jesus after the resurrection, had eaten with him and listened to his teaching. However there seems to be some uncertainty among them and their absence of the clear understanding of the resurrected Jesus was still haunting them. As far as they were concerned it was all over and it seemed to be the end of everything. They had the constant threat and danger to face from the Jews. Today’s Gospel implies that they had left Jerusalem and went back all the way to their native Galilee to resume their former way of life as fishermen. The previous three years had been an interesting and even exciting interlude in their lives but now they were back to what they had always been doing. There they spend a whole night’s fishing, they catch absolutely nothing. Suddenly they encounter a stranger on the shore; a shadowy outline in the morning’s dew begins a dialogue with them. “Have you caught anything?” he asks them. Reluctantly the fishermen admit they had caught nothing. He gives them advice from the shore to drop their nets on the right side of the boat and they would find something. They simply obey the stranger and the result of this action makes them realise it is no other than their master who is guiding them from the shore. John recognises him and Peter immediately reacts to the revelation and he jumps into the water and jumps into the water and swims back to the shore to be with the Lord.
Here we see the concern of Jesus. He welcomes them to the shore. He knew of their struggle through the night and the exhaustion through hard work. When they come ashore they find the stranger-Lord has prepared a meal for them of bread and roasted fish. He tells them to bring some of the fish they had just caught and make their breakfast. They were aware that he is no other than the Lord and they have a meal together. This meal symbolises the Eucharist into which all of us participate. The disciples are in the presence of Jesus, the Word of God, and listening to him. He calls them together to come and eat and share the togetherness. He breaks the bread and shares the fish and says “Take, all of you, and eat together.” They and he are sharing what they have and eating in unity and community. Such a simple scene provides us a beautiful picture of the Church. The disciples have a lesson to have the meal together to share in the breaking of the bread.
There is a great similarity between this miracle and the calming the storm as recorded by the Synoptic writers. The disciples were struggling in the storm. Lord was not there in their struggle or they thought he was far away and sleeping. He comes to them and calms the storm. Once Jesus is with them all is quiet. In this miracle we see the disciples felt that the Lord was not there with them when they go fishing. They struggle without the Lord’s presence and catch nothing. The Lord comes to them and there is a large catch of fish. This symbolises the early church during the days of the persecutions and was considered to have been struggling in the middle of a storm. There was the absence of the Lord. They thought the Lord was far away. But he comes to them and tells them what to do and they have their joy and fulfilment.
In the second part of the Gospel we have the scene where Jesus is asking Peter on three times the question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And three times, Peter affirmed his loyalty to Jesus, promising to serve Him, even to death. Each time Jesus gives him the mission to care for his sheep. He is given the call to leadership and to continue his mission. Jesus demanded a threefold profession of love from Peter was in response to Peter’s threefold denial prior to the passion. Undoubtedly, Peter knew that he was being reminded that on three past occasions, he had denied his knowing the Lord Jesus. When Peter is asked the third time, it hurts him and finally he says: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Knowing the transformation and conversion that has taken place in the heart of Peter, Jesus accepts his word and places His authority and leadership on him. He was commissioning Peter to be the shepherd of his newly founded church. Simon Peter would be the new shepherd and he would take the place of Christ. He would provide protection and pasturage for the Christian flock, the people of God.
Today when we receive the Holy Eucharist, let us publicly show our loyalty to Jesus. Through the reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are professing our faith in the Divine Presence of Jesus manifested in the Living Bread. By our presence here today, we are saying to Jesus, “My Lord, all authority is yours! You are my Lord and my God! Guide me! I humbly obey your commission!” in our moments of emptiness and when we see the Lord is not close to us but has left us alone. Let us realise that he close to u and supports us. We can conclude our reflection with a short prayer: “Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be only a radiance of yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every person I come in contact with will feel your presence in me. Let them look up and see, not only me, but also Jesus.”
Fr Eugene Lobo SJ, Rome