Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

by Rev. Dr. Mathew C. Chacko

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday after New Sunday

Gospel Reading: John 21:1-14

Christ is Risen!

The Resurrection appearances of Jesus are the continuing meditation of the Church during Sundays after Easter. They had basically one purpose: to confirm the faith of the disciples in Jesus as the Savior and Lord and to strengthen them in their faith as their Savior and their trust in him as their Lord and Master. These in turn were to prepare them as his witnesses and to make them his apostles.

It could have been interesting, and perhaps amusing, if Jesus appeared to Pontius Pilate, the chief priests Annas or Ciaphus, or even Herod, the King. But he did not.

He appeared to his own only. For the believers, the day of Resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of a new age. St. Augustine writes, "The day of resurrection is the eschatological, eighth day, which ushers in the new creation represented by the new week, --- the first day of the new era of salvation" [ACCS Commentary on LUKE, p. 373.] This extra ordinary event, a complete contrast of the experience on the Friday previous to that, turned their perception of reality so drastically that they saw Jesus in an entirely different way. The apostle to India, Thomas, doubted the veracity of the Resurrection and vowed that he would not believe unless he himself saw Jesus and felt his nail-pierced hands and his wounded side. The Savior appears to the disciples at the next Eucharistic assembly and asks Thomas to see and touch and believe. Those who doubt the doubter's authenticity as an apostle of Jesus should open their mind's eyes at the appearance of Jesus just for Thomas, as it were. The trauma that the disciples were going through at his mockery trial is not hard to understand if you are a believer. Those who truly experience the Resurrection of Jesus by faith only can understand the eleven disciples' struggle at this point of their spiritual journey. However, Thomas believed and confessed and perhaps took his rightful place along with the ten, who were there when Jesus first appeared to them as a group.

In the doubts of the disciples is born the foundation of our faith. St. Leo explains: "Their 'seeing' instructed us, their 'hearing' informed us, their 'touching' strengthened us. Let us give thanks for the divine plan and the necessary 'slowness' of the holy fathers. They 'doubted' so that we need not doubt." Ibid., p. 376.

St. Luke narrates the story of the appearance of Jesus to his disciples where he had dealt with their doubts, not in the same way, but in similar fashion. See Luke 24: 36-42. 36. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questions arise in your hearts? 39. See my hands and feet, it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has no flesh and bones as you see that I have" 41. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42. They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43. And he took it and ate before them.

This passage resembles the account given in today's reading, but not same instance, but another rendering of Jesus' Resurrection encounter. Not only Thomas had doubts and questions, but all of them in various degrees intensity. Even John may have his own doubts and questions. John does, however, recognizes the Lord faster, because he was in tuned with the Master closer than any one else. It seems to be a slow process for the disciples to accept Jesus' Resurrection appearances as real and authentic and that Jesus is alive again!

The miracle that we see here in this story has several aspects. The heavy catch, the net not being torn, and the visitor with fireplace and fish on it. Where did he get the fire and the fish? The Creator, once confined to this earth's condition, while he was walking on this earth, of using the created things, now is creating out of nothing.

How much the disciples at this point have pondered about these events and understood their significance is beyond our understanding. These Resurrection appearances of Jesus, however, have instilled in them a faith and a hope helping them recall and confirm everything that Jesus spoke to them, while he was with them.

What are the lessons we can learn from today's Gospel?

1. We all like miracles. We expect miracles. We pray for miracles. Miracles do happen everyday in our lives. Some times we may not even notice them. We may call them coincidences. But miracles, when they do take place in our lives, they should open our inner eyes, spiritual eyes in better terms, so that we recognize our Lord in the midst of it and make our recommitment in our trust and obedience to him and his Word.

2. Many of us are still fishing, doing our older job of making money, position and power though we have accepted to follow Jesus in our ways of thought, word and behavior, and to continue his mission of calling people to be Christ's ambassadors. This is not a predicament of the lay folk, but sadly, it is the case with most of us clergy. While writing this I am not putting myself above lay or clergy who go fishing always and every where. I am examining myself to know for sure what I am doing with the Lord's call to be his servant and a fellow servant for and with others in the ministry.

3. It is unfortunate that our priests have to go fishing to earn a living. Ministry has become a secondary or part time job and the priests cannot do justice to their main calling, serving God and His people. It is a job that requires 24/7 commitment. But how can they do it? It is encouraging to see dedicated and brilliant young men who are born and raised in this country, aspiring to be priests in our Church. Perhaps, now is the time that we find ways in which these deacons and future priests can serve as full-time pastors.

4. Enticing people by promising miracles is a way of fishing which some "Churches" and perhaps most Churches are utilizing today. I remember one time that an honorable person in our Church promising prayers on peoples' behalf for ever if they contribute a one time offering of thousand dollars. He was assuring the prayers of a community that has taken upon itself intercessory prayer. This is leading people away from a trusting relationship with God. A miracle is a sign according to St. John, the apostle, and the purpose of it is to manifest the glory of God and thereby a call to commitment or recommitment to trust and obedience. People go to shrines of saints expecting a miracle. That is OK as long as they know that the ultimate source is God and the saints are reflecting God's mercy and grace. We need to teach the use of miracles in their lives.

In summary, as the disciples were strengthened in their faith and commitment to following the Lord and dedicating themselves in his mission by these Resurrection appearance and the accompanied miracles, may we too through our worship together recommit ourselves to following him.

Indeed, He is Risen.
Praise the Lord.

See Also:

Sermon of the Week for the Second Sunday After Easter
by Rev. Dr. V. Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday After New Sunday
by Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday after New Sunday
by Rev. Fr. Dr. George Pulikkottil

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday after New Sunday
by Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose

Nothing Without God
by Rev. Fr. Laby Panackamattom

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday after New Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

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