Third Sunday in Easter
Points to note
I have taken a mid point in the options for this reading in the missal. The full reading runs to verse 19 while the short version only runs to 14. I have taken to reading to verse 17.
The reading requires a little explaining in order to highlight certain interesting features that the author has included into the passage. Following that, the idea of Jesus eating together with his apostles is also interesting to explore. Basically, we say that a family that eats together stays together: the idea being that eating somehow has a bonding effect on people.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Lord Jesus, explain the scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All: Glory to you O Lord
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” They replied, “We’ll come with you.” They went out and got into a boat but caught nothing that night.
It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise it was Jesus. Jesus called out, “Have you caught anything, friends?” And when they answered, “No”, he said, “throw out the net to the starboard and you’ll find something.” So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” At these words “It is the Lord”, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.
As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them: in spite of them being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?” they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.
After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?” He answers, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Look after my sheep.” Then he said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Go through the reading again to identify some interesting features of the reading:
© How many times did Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection: to Mary Magdalene (in the morning of Easter Sunday); on the road to Emmaus (in the afternoon); in the locked room (in the evening); to Thomas (a week later). Apparently, John called this the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples.
© Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. The number three came up again in another Jesus-Peter story. Which one? When Peter denied Jesus three times. People say that Jesus asked Peter three times, to forgive him for the three times Peter denied him.
© The disciples did not first recognise Jesus. This is the same as in some of the other resurrection stories: who else? Mary Magdalene; the disciples on the road to Emmaus. When did they properly recognise Jesus? When he started eating with them, just like at Emmaus.
© The story is very similar to another story of the catch of fish, which one? The one after which Jesus called Peter to be his disciple. We seem to be coming round to one big circle.
© Why did Jesus eat with his disciples? Because he was hungry after three days in the tomb; because he wanted to prove that he was not a ghost. After all, ghosts can’t eat, can they?
If we take each of these interesting points, there is something to say in each of these. Let’s take two of them.
In each of the occasion when the disciples did not recognise Jesus after the resurrection, there was something in common about when they recognised Jesus. Go through each of these: Mary recognised Jesus when Jesus called her by her name; the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognised him when he broke bread with them; the apostles recognised him when they hauled in the fish and confirmed it when he ate with them. In each of these, they recognised Jesus when Jesus did something familiar to them, which he had done before with them.
For older children
Explain that the words of the Institution in the Eucharistic prayers at mass are our way of recognising Jesus. Like the disciples, we often do not recognise him but we will when we see something familiar to us – the Eucharist. That is why the priest says the word, “Do this in memory of me” at the end of words of the Institution. In truth, though, we do more than remember, we relive it.
Fishers of men
Remember how Peter first met Jesus? He was fishing without success when Jesus asked him to cast his net out and he ended up with a lot of fish. He then asked Jesus to leave him for he was a sinful man. But, Jesus asked him to follow him. Hence, the ending of the story for this Sunday, “Follow me”.
Jesus also told him that the apostles will be fishers of men. In this Sunday’s story, you will see that there were 153 fishes in the net. Now, in the ancient world, they believed that there were 153 countries in the world. So, the apostles will be able to make Christians out of all countries of the world and being them into the Church. Just as the net did not break, neither will the Church break with so many different languages, cultures and customs from so many different countries.