Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples (Jn 21:1-14)
After the Resurrection, we see Jesus appearing to his disciples a third time. His appearance was the Revelation of Jesus to his disciples. Jesus came to reveal God the Father to us. He revealed God as ‘Father’ to us. He makes us God’s adopted children. He reveals that he is the Son of God. All that he had said and did were in fact revealing God the Father to the world. Revelation has a purpose. The purpose of Revelation was the salvation of humanity. Through his Revelation, he wanted to convey to his disciples, why he had saved them. He wanted his disciples to be fishers of men. Meaning to say, that he was preparing them for a greater mission by strengthening their faith in the Risen Lord. It is only through an encounter of the Risen Lord that the disciples were prepared for the mission. In the first part of the chapter, we see this preparation for the mission; and in the second part, that is, from vv. 15-19, we see the commissioning of Peter, to take care of the sheep.
The appearance story mentioned in the Gospel of John manifests their inability to recognize the Risen Lord. In the absence of Jesus’ ever guiding presence, Peter chooses to go fishing. His leadership qualities move others to join him, and they went out to fish, but they caught nothing. It is here that we see the dramatic appearance of Jesus to his disciples. He addresses them as ‘Children’ and asks them: “you have no fish, have you?” Jesus knew well what was happening to them. He wanted to reveal himself again to his disciples through a great catch of the fish. He tells them to ‘cast the net to the right side of the boat’, and they caught so many fish. Peter did not know that it was Jesus who had commanded him to cast the net to the right side of the boat. However, John, the beloved disciple, who was close to the heart of Jesus and who knew the heart of Jesus, recognizes the Master, and said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”. Through these words, John brings in a repetition of the words of Thomas: He is the Lord. Earlier, through Thomas’ mouth, we had heard the Revelation that Jesus is the Lord and God. He is no ordinary man. Now, John tells it again to emphasize the point that Jesus is not the same Rabbi, the Master who was teaching them many things, but rather, he is the Lord of the universe.
Peter was fully immersed in fishing and thus, was more connected to the world that he could not recognize the working presence of the Lord in his life. However, John, who was close to Jesus’ heart recognizes him even at the daybreak. It is not enough to be a leader, but rather, it is important to be close to the heart of Jesus, to know him and acknowledge his unfailing presence in one’s life. This heart-to-heart relationship is the need of the time. God continues to guide us through this Covid-19 pandemic. Those who still immerse themselves in the world fail to feel God’s hand at work amidst the pandemic. However, the beloved disciples know very well that it is the right time to call out to the Lord for intervention. He will turn every toil of the doctors, nurses, and health workers into a healing moment.
In the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9, we see how Saul continued to persecute the Christians, as he had not yet encountered the Risen Lord. He was adamant on arresting all those who followed the way of the Lord. However, the moment he heard the Lord’s voice, he considers it as the Lord’s call to take up his mission courageously. After the encounter, even though his eyes were opened he could not see. He needed a special anointing to see Jesus as the Lord and Savior. Many, who persecute Christians in different parts of the world, are those who have no experience of the Risen Lord. As Christians, we need to raise our hearts to the Almighty to reveal once again the ‘Lord’ to the world. He who can fill the empty boats with many fish can also fill every stubborn heart with God’s love and mercy and heal it. Amen!