Scripture: Lectionary #265. April 13. Acts 4:1-12. Psalm 118:1-2.22-24.25-27. John 21:1-14
There are two endings to the Gospel of John. Today we read and listen to the third Resurrection appearance of Jesus on the shore of what is called in the Fourth Gospel the Sea of Tiberias. This name for the Lake of Galilee is only found here and probably due to the fact that one of the cities on the Lake was named after the Roman emperor, probably by the Roman occupation. Unlike the appearances in chapter twenty which take place in Jerusalem, this one is similar to Mark and Matthew who have the risen one in Galilee. It is Jesus tells them to proceed to Galilee where they will see him.
The realism in the scenes depicting Jesus’ appearances helps us to appreciate the humanity of the Lord. Some heretics would say Jesus was only a phantasm of a human person nor really human. These scenes are helpful in refuting those who would say he is not real as a historical person. The fact of eating, lighting a fire, breaking bread and distributing food are in these appearances help us to affirm the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, the only sure hope for our own. We rely on the authentic inspired Scriptures that give us the witnesses of the Resurrection upon whom the mystery depends for its authenticity.
Here Jesus is preparing breakfast for the fisherman. They listen to his telling them to cast again on the starboard side; they haul in 153 fish (perhaps a hint at the universality of the Church). The Beloved Disciple is the first to recognize the Lord, then Peter and the four other disciples who were in the boat. The mention and high lighting of John and Peter continues and finishes the chapter in speaking of the death of Peter and the mystery of the Beloved Disciple. John then gives us the reason for the Gospel in this chapter 21 just as he had done for chapter 22: Belief, growing belief, in the real person and presence of Jesus. The Eucharistic overtones are important for our own growth in experiencing what the Resurrection is all about. It is the Bread of Life and a foretaste of the life to come. Our personhood is both spirit and body.
In the Acts of the Apostles we learn of another narrative about Peter and John who, after having healed the crippled beggar, are imprisoned for preaching the name of Jesus and his saving power. This imprisonment does not stop them from being bold witnesses to the Resurrection and to the miraculous power of Jesus in whose name they healed the man. Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit to continue to preach even to those who arrested him and John.
Returning to the Gospel selection for today, Fr. MacRae, S.J. has this to say:
“Traditional interpretation has seen a number of symbolisms in details of this chapter. In verse 7 , for example, the fact the beloved disciple is the first to recognize the risen Jesus suggests the superior spiritual insight of the Johannine church (see 20:8). The precise number of fish, 153, is so unusual as to be significant (verse 110, and suggests its meaning has already been tantalizing. For many it suggests the inclusiveness of the church. The meal of bread and fish (verse 13), reminds us of the multiplication of loaves and is often taken as a Eucharistic meal. The three-part dialogue of Jesus with Peter (verses 15-17) corresponds to Peter’s triple denial, though we must note that it is the reader who makes this point, not the writer.”