May 5, 2019 at St. Peter and St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Acts 5, 27-32, 40-41 + Psalm 30 + Revelation 5, 9-11-14 + John 21, 1-19
By listing the names of these fishermen, John is giving us more information than just who was there. First of all, counting Peter, there were seven of them, and that number seven in the Scriptures always carries with it a deeper meaning. In this case, the sense of totality. Everyone is there. The seven named by John represent every possible type gathered in assembly just like us today. There is the impulsive Peter, the doubting Thomas, the shrewd Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee so intense in their feelings, and “two others” just in case you can’t recognize yourself among the five with names. The wonderful grace of being with the risen Christ is being revealed and discovered, and John tells us today where we shall find the Risen Lord.
“I’m going fishing”, says Peter, and the others say, “We’ll go with you.” They are going back now to their ordinary lives, and with that the scene is set and the message of John’s gospel is revealed. Remember, this is not about those individuals named, it’s about us. John is writing to you and me with a message about where and how the risen Lord is to be found. There is no earthquake, no thunder and lightning. There are no talking angels. A group of people are going about their ordinary lives, doing what puts food on the table. Someone comes along the shore and asks a question that anyone would ask of someone fishing: “Did you catch anything?” It can’t be more ordinary and simple. They say “No”, and the stranger on the shore suggests something. They try it and it works. Suddenly there is more fish than they can manage, and this last episode of John’s Gospel takes us back to the first one, a wedding feast with a lot of wine! The gospel of John ends as it begins with a remarkable story of the great abundance that comes when you do what Jesus asks.
What is so very ordinary evolves into something almost mystical however and John adds some little details that invite us to wonder. Peter gets dressed and jumps into the water. Maybe it should have been the other way around, but he seems to want to be presentable to the Lord that John has recognized from his loving heart. Then there is that scene around a fire so different from the scene around the fire in Courtyard of Pilate. No denials this time. Once again, Jesus feeds them, and the way John describes the gestures invites us to think of the Eucharist.
What is being revealed to us today in this Gospel is what we are doing here in this place. The wonderful mysteries of grace are unfolding as we go on with our ordinary lives. No matter what you are doing, cooking dinner, washing dishes, folding laundry, serving somewhere as a volunteer, or even playing cards or walking the beach, a loving heart filled with faith will see the risen Lord. As we go from here back into our very ordinary lives, we carry with us the message that echoes deep in our hearts realizing that he is here in our midst, and his promise to never leave us has been kept.