Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
What at first reads like a Bad Fishing Story with a happy ending is really a lesson from the Risen Lord on how to go about making disciples. Like most of the dramatic scenes in the gospels, there's depth in the deceptively mundane details of the story. A group of disciples are out fishing and they're not having much luck. Jesus is watching them from the shore. The disciples do not yet recognize their Lord, so they just continue their fruitless efforts to snag some fish. After a while, Jesus says to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” They obey. And the load was so large that they “were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.” At that moment, the Beloved Disciple recognizes Jesus and says to Peter: “It is the Lord!” Peter jumps into the water and goes to Jesus. The other disciples recognize Jesus when they approach the fire. Notice: the B.D. recognizes Jesus after the miracle occurs. Peter recognizes Jesus after the B.D. identifies him. And the other disciples recognize Jesus after they see him cooking the fish and bread on a fire. This gospel story opens with a simple declaration: “Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.” How Jesus reveals himself to his disciples—and how they recognize him—tells us how to go about making disciples for the gospel.
First, Jesus reveals himself to the B.D. through his command to cast the net on the right side of the boat. The Greek used indicates that Jesus is telling his disciples to cast their nets on the “graced side” in order to “receive their portion.” The idea here is that when we put our trust in God's grace, we receive an abundant portion from Him. The B.D.'s eyes are opened to seeing truly b/c he obeys-listens in faith. He then “sees” that the stranger is Christ. Jesus then uses the B.D. to reveal himself to Peter. After “seeing” Jesus, the B.D. says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter hears this bit of good news, he girds himself tightly, and casts himself into the sea. . .much like the B.D. casting his net for that huge haul of fish, Peter is casting himself into the world to haul in a huge load of disciples. When one of us “sees” the Lord, we are compelled to testify to his presence. Jesus reveals himself to the B.D. and Peter individually, using sight and sound, word and deed. He reveals himself to the other disciples communally. They come to see him when they join the others over a meal. IOW, when they come together to enjoy God's gifts, they see the stranger as the Christ.
That stranger on the shore is revealed to be the Risen Lord when one disciple obeys-listens to him with faith. He's revealed to be the Risen Lord to another when the first disciple bears witness to his presence. And all the others come to know him when they gather together and recall the last time they huddled over a fire to share fish and bread. The key to making disciples for the Good News is to be—ourselves—living revelations of Christ in the world. Obey-listen to all that he has taught us. Proclaim his presence among us. Jump into the world and haul in any and all who would know the Lord as Savior. And then come together to be fed at the table of the Lord. At the center of this disciple-making pattern is the willingness/eagerness of those of us who know the Christ to be ourselves living revelations of his presence. It's not enough to point the way. Or draw a map of the way. Or just stand out of the way. How we choose to live—moment to moment—must be in and of itself a revelation, an unveiling of who and what the Risen Lord is for us. For us, he is the Savior. To us, he is our Brother. With us, is the grace of God set upon the world to make known the Father's freely given mercy to sinners._______________
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ---->