April 14, 2013 - Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32, 40B-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19
"Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something" (John 21:6). These are the words of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection. How are these words also intended for us?
Easter is a time to celebrate the New Life of Jesus within us. Lent was a time to put aside the old ways of doing, thinking, and being that lead to dead-ends, in order to put on new ways of doing, thinking, and being that lead to life-giving journeys. Going from the old way to the new way of God requires a change of heart and mind. That's what Jesus is continuing to teach the disciples in the gospel today.
Several disciples went fishing with Peter to catch something to eat. They spent the whole night out in the boat, but caught nothing. Then Jesus from the shore, whom they did not recognize, asked them, "Have you caught anything to eat?" When they said "no," Jesus responded, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." They then got a huge haul of fish. Jesus was telling seasoned fishermen to try "something new" and they did "find something" to eat. Then John recognized Jesus and they all rushed to join Jesus around his fire. Jesus had some bread, but told them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." Jesus blessed the bread and fish, and the disciples were fed and nourished.
Let me share a story from my days of parish work in Papua New Guinea. I was with priests and other pastoral workers of the diocese for a workshop to initiate a program called "New Image of a Parish" (NIP). We listened to this same gospel reading during one of our daily Eucharists. During the communal reflection, I remember so well one of the elder missionaries saying, "I think that through this new diocesan NIP program, we are being asked by Jesus to cast our net on the other side of the boat and we will find something new!" And, I would add, many will be nourished - both pastoral workers and parishioners.
Pope Francis is a witness for us of a life of simplicity, humility, and service to the poor and marginalized. On Holy Thursday, he washed the feet of Muslim women in a prison in Rome. We Christians are being challenged to cast our nets on the other side and find something new - the New Life of the Resurrection.
Like the disciples on the seashore, the veteran missionary in Papua New Guinea, and Pope Francis, we are invited to recognize the voice of Jesus calling us to act and think differently so we can share in the fullness of God's New Life for us, our family, our communities, and all peoples. Jesus nourishes us along the way, sometimes through the "work of our hands" as he did with the fish the disciples caught themselves. The Eucharist is a reminder that we are fed by God and the community as we cast our net for the sake of God's kingdom.