21 April
Jn 21:1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When we are in doubt we return to what we know: the past.  When we don’t know where we are going, we turn back.  When Jesus was dead his disciples returned to their former way of life: they tried to go back to fishing.  But “they caught nothing that night.”  Even the past could give them no reassurance; they had nowhere to go.  They had no future, they thought, because Jesus was dead; and now they seemed to have no past either.  Tragedy and failure drove them into the present moment.  It was in that cataclysmic Now that they saw Jesus.  The Good News reveals itself in the Now.  ‘Now’ is like a bomb thrown through our window, and ticking…. The Resurrection of Jesus is God's new deed.

Can I be said to ‘have’ the faith if I think of it only as an old ideology battling for survival against new?  What about that cataclysmic Now that those broken-down disciples had to enter before they could see the Lord?  There is a way of appearing very Catholic, and it is to appear very concerned with the past.  How could this be the proper emphasis?  Our faith is not a form of nostalgia or antiquarianism.  We are already too prone to slipping away into the past when the present is too painful.  If we follow the same line with our faith, we will not be witnessing to the resurrection of Christ, but only offering one another bland assurances that convince no one, not even ourselves.  Unless we experience this ‘dying to oneself’, our words will offer nothing but routes of escape into a reassuring past. 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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