3rd Sunday of Easter – A Voice Calls Out
Jesus, risen from the dead, continues to appear to his friends. Seven of them, after returning to Galilee from Jerusalem, had spent the night fishing on the lake when they saw a stranger on the shore. Night in the Gospel often signifies spiritual darkness, and Jesus is the light of faith. That Jesus was not immediately recognised by them is a common feature of his post-resurrection appearances. A recurring theme in this Fourth Gospel is an interplay between sight and faith, between seeing Jesus and recognising who he is. Donal Dorr reminds us that “We can only encounter him when we have been given the amazing grace of having a loving faith relationship with him” – A Creed for Today, p. 129. Thus the disciple Jesus loved recognised the stranger and cried out, ‘It is the Lord’.
The scriptures are best read and listened to by those who have had some kind of conversion to Christ. They need to have what Richard Rohr calls a “symbiotic relationship or shared life” with the words and stories of the gospels. When the reader senses, however vaguely, something nesting behind what is being listened to or read, he or she should pause as it may be an echo of the voice of Christ calling them. Many who are well educated gravitate towards a cerebral reading of scripture and miss out on the sense of mystery. Some try to use the scriptures like a personal power pack to justify their behaviour or to “prove” something about religion.
Today’s story brings us back to where Jesus, walking by the lake, called his first disciples to follow him. Now, risen from the dead, he invites us to follow him and walk with him again to Jerusalem, but this time in the light of Easter. Scripture scholars tell us that the stories in the gospels really reflect the great Easter story of new life, new hope and a new kind of peace and reconciliation. We are told that the disciples had been fishing all night but had caught nothing. When the figure on the shore told them to throw the net ‘out to starboard’ something strange happened. They listened and, maybe catching a vaguely familiar echo in the voice, found a new energy and landed a large catch. Unknown to them Easter had dawned.
We see Jesus having a chat with Peter. “If you love me….feed my sheep”. Jesus made him leader of the group. Peter had the makings of a natural leader. What Jesus saw in him was what he got – a man of integrity, comfortable in his own skin and ever ready to admit his failings. Fr. Brendan Hoban, in a recent issue of the Western People said “There are people in our society who are natural leaders; they have that amalgam of character, probity, rectitude, honour and honesty that provides them with real authority as distinct from power. Once we get the ‘smell’ of integrity from them we tend to follow their lead”. A real leader has spontaneous followers. I think Francis has it in spades. Doesn’t he smell of the sheep?
Fr. QQ – 04/27/2022