Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter that holds a theme of restoration and love for God, whose Gospel contains one of the many post-Resurrection accounts. Recount that in John’s Gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary of Magdala, second to all of the disciples except Thomas, third to Thomas and the disciples (last Sunday’s Gospel of John 20:19-31) and fourth to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee, Lake of Gennesaret) in today’s Gospel reading.
After a spirit filled retreat or a God encounter, some of us would move onwards in our life with the strength and direction of the Lord. There are others however who would return to square one. This was what happened to Peter and the disciples.
After the flurry of events of the death and resurrection of Jesus of which they did not understand, they returned to their old lives – as fishermen. (Recall that Jesus had called Simon from being a fisherman to be fisher of men in Luke 5: 1-11)
It seems very easy and comfortable to return to our old habits and mentalities. How often do you find yourself saying “It worked last time, what need of improvement is there?” After all, change is hard, conversion needs generous effort. The disciples travelled 120km from Jerusalem to the Sea of Tiberias to fish, something they knew worked very well.
The Sea of Tiberias was the only freshwater lake in the vicinity. Since freshwater fishing is easier, along with the skillset of the fisherman, many fish should have been caught that night! – But they caught nothing!
Jesus whom they did not recognise once again instructed them to cast the net in confidence they would catch fish –
Do we submit to God’s will with obedience, believing our Heavenly Father knows best? (John 15:5)
Jesus called them “children” (in Greek: paidia for children in training) knowing that they were lost in identity and confused over the recent happenings even though they were learned in the faith. They had lost hope in Christ and his promises. And so, starts the restoration of their faith. By calling them “paidia”, Jesus acknowledged their feelings and addressed their needs with a verbal hug. How great is the Lord’s love for his children! He returns back to their square one – their first meeting in Luke 5:1-11– to renew them once again and steer them back to the path. This is our Lord Jesus who goes down to our spiritual level to bring us up, helping us to get up from our falls.
- Do we let Him restore us?
- Do we recognise Him in the people who offer us help?
- Or do we let our pride stop us from being humble?
Indeed, encountering the Lord will strengthen us just as it had strengthened Peter to single-handedly carry the heavy net from the boat.
When Jesus asks for the fish they have caught, he is acknowledging the value the disciples can bring to the table of plenty. He restores them from feeling useless to being useful. It parallels the presentation of the gifts at the Eucharistic Celebration (EC). God is in lack of nothing and yet he requests of an offering from us and is contented of what we can give of our self, the two cents worth that is enough for him to multiply with his love.
In Luke 5:30-32, Jesus replied the Pharisees that He came to call sinners to repentance and that was the reason why He dines with the tax collectors and sinners. Peter had just denied Jesus three times and by going back to their old life, the disciples turned away from Christ. Knowing they needed restoration, Jesus revealed himself to them. Do we recognise our need to eat with the Lord regularly so He can nourish us?
We now come to the threefold restoration of Peter. Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. The first and second times, Jesus uses the word “agape” (Greek for selfless love) and Peter replies using “philo” (Greek for brotherly love) because he was thinking of his failings and how he had fallen short of his promises to Jesus. The third time, Jesus goes down to Peter’s level and asks him if he loves (philos) him. Peter was grieved as he could not reciprocate the love Jesus had for him. But this is the depth of God’s love, to complete a threefold restoration for a threefold denial. He knows our heart and is ever patient with us. How often do we let God restore us through the sacrament of reconciliation? What kind of love do you wish to have for God and how are you going to achieve it?
Where are you in your journey as a disciple of Christ?
Let us pray that we will be continually nourished by the Lord to be His witnesses, ever desiring to seek restoration and His love when we fall.
Peace and Joy,
Philip and Marianne
Questions for Personal Reflection
Do we let Him restore us?
Do we recognize Him in the people who offer us help?
Or do we let our pride stop us from being humble?