Sunday Mass: More Than A Fish Story

May 03rd
MORE THAN A FISH STORY
 
"Some men go out on a boat, catch a lot of fish, and then have breakfast." That is how someone might summarize what happens in this Sunday's Gospel (John 21:1-14).
 
But that Gospel reading is filled with specific details.
 
We are told there was a definite number of men - seven to be exact, and the names of five of them are listed in the reading. There was Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, Zebedee's sons (James and John), and two other unnamed disciples.
 
We are told that their efforts during the night on the Sea of Galilee produced no results. As they are about to quit, a stranger on the shore urges them to cast their net once more. They heed the advice and are rewarded with a catch, a catch specifically described. Not just fish, but big fish, and not just a lot of fish, but an exact number - 153 to be exact.
 
When "the disciple whom Jesus loved" recognizes the person standing on the shore, he tells Peter, "It is the Lord." Peter immediately throws on more clothes and swims about 100 yards to the shore.
 
When the other six disciples in the boat arrive, they discover Jesus is cooking over a fire. Not just any fire, but a charcoal fire, and cooking specific food, bread and fish. Jesus says, "Come have breakfast" and he serves them.
 
In Saint John's Gospel this is the third and final appearance of the Risen Lord to his disciples. John provides us with details because he wants us to know he is not telling us about some vision or spiritual experience but about another actual encounter with the Risen Lord. Jesus was no bodiless spirit or wishful creation of his disciples.
 
A bodiless spirit does not yell fishing instructions across the waters of a lake.
 
A bodiless spirit is not visible from 100 yards away.
 
A bodiless spirit does not build charcoal fires on the beach.
 
A bodiless spirit does not cook bread and fish.
 
A bodiless spirit does not serve breakfast to hungry fishermen.
 
In this experience those disciples once again came to know that their master and teacher who had been crucified and placed in a tomb was with them once more. He had conquered death. He was risen.
 
From that first Easter Sunday and down to this very day, there are those who dismiss the resurrection as a pious myth, a spiritual allegory, a product of wishful thinking, or a deceitful fraud perpetrated on gullible people.
 
Sunday's Gospel is not some "fish story" to use a colloquial expression, but a detailed account that proclaims the reality of the Lord's Resurrection.
 
© 2019 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski
 
May the Risen Lord bless you with his presence and peace
during this Easter Season!