Catch of Fish'
9th April 2021
...at least they know...
'Jesus said to them,
"Come and have breakfast."'
.... John 21:12
I love being beside water
and the highlight of my trips to the
Holy Land were spending time beside
the Sea of Galilee.
Our Gospel text for today puts us right out
on the water with Peter
and the other disciples,
after Jesus' resurrection.
The disciples were gathered in
Galilee by this point,
when Peter suggests a fishing trip.
Now Peter and a number of the other
disciples were fishermen by trade.
So this isn't the same as hanging a
"gone fishing'" sign
on the door of their business
as a break from work;
this is more like getting back
to workback to the familiar
of day to day activities.
After all, those post-resurrection
appearances of Jesus
must have been bewildering.
Now you saw him - now you didn't!
On the way to Emmaus they saw him,
but they didn't -
until he revealed himself in the
'breaking of the bread.'
The disciples behind locked doors
on two different occasions
were busily occupied with their own
conversation when suddenly
he was there among them -
until he disappeared again -
and the door had never
opened or closed!
He kept coming unexpectedly
and leaving equally unexpectedly -
in unexpected places and times!
How were they ever to know where he was -
where he was going to be -
when they would see him
and where they might meet him.
So it would have been pretty disorienting.
But at least they know what they're doing
when they're out in their boat fishing;
and many important stories from
Jesus' life and ministry also
happen in and around water.
There were seven disciples altogether,
seemingly at a loose end
with nothing to do but follow
Peters suggestion to go fishing,
back to the familiar,
back to their roots.
The seven are Simon Peter,
Thomas the Twin,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee's sons, James and John
and two others of his disciples.
Nathanael, called by Philip
The number seven suggests
the fullness of the community.
(John likes the number seven -
seven signs performed by Jesus
and seven 'I AM' statements.)
After a whole night on the lake
they caught nothing.
Is there also an echo of words
spoken at the Last Supper,
"apart from me you can do nothing"
Tired and dispirited they returned to the shore,
and there was Jesus,
preparing a meal on the beach -
not as a ghost or apparition,
but as a physical being able to
lift things and build a fire, etc.
Then, after their own efforts
had been useless,
He provided an abundance of fish
with one simple instruction;
"Let down your nets
on the other side of the boat.'
They obeyed and the net was
full to overflowing.
And the net was not broken.
The net itself is, as in other texts,
a symbol of the Kingdom of God.
This is all clearly a parable,
a symbol of their future work
as fishers of people,
a work whose success will originate
in the power of Jesus behind them
and in their following
what he tells them to do.
And after these marvels,
He simply said,
"Come and eat breakfast"?
His identity was then confirmed
by his taking the bread and the fish
and giving it to them to eat.
He broke bread,
he celebrated a Eucharist with them.
We have here then some
central pillars of our faith:
- recognising Christ in the
kindly stranger and playing
that role ourselves;
- expressing our love and solidarity
with each other through our
celebration of the Eucharist
and breaking bread together;
- working with the power of Jesus
to fill the net that is the Kingdom,
becoming truly fishers of people.
So "come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters."
The same Lord who served
his friends breakfast on the beach
that morning in Galilee stands ready to
"satisfy our needs in parched places." (Isaiah 58:11)
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Dwell among us'
sung by Salt of the Sound
via the link shown below.