The 3rd Sunday of Easter – 1 May 2022
Lectionary Readings: Acts 5:27-32. 40-41; Ps. 30:2. 4-6.11-13; Rev, 5:11-14; Jn. 21: 1-19
Theme: “It is the lord!”
The gospel for this Sunday has been a fruitful source of scholarly debate. How does this encounter of the disciples with the risen Jesus fit into the sequence of events recounted in previous chapters? The missionary and theologian, Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998) concluded that “a higher priority [was given] to continuity of theological development than to preserving the order of events as they happened.” (Newbigin, 275) That is, what really matters is what this encounter has to teach us about the relationship between Jesus and his followers, both those who knew him during his earthly ministry and those who, like ourselves, have come after. Here is Newbigin’s description of the encounter:
Led by Peter the disciples have apparently turned their backs on the traumatic events in Jerusalem to return to their old craft. But in this they meet total failure. A profitless night draws to its end, and they have yet to learn the truth of Jesus’ words: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” A figure dimly perceived standing on the shore calls to them: “Lads, you haven’t caught anything to eat, have you?” “No,” they answer. “Cast your net to the right of the boat, and you’ll find something,” comes the reply. When they obey the unknown stranger, their nets are filled with a mighty catch. Who is he? Once again it is the unnamed beloved disciple whose insight pierces through ignorance to the truth. [Peter clothes himself, leaps in and swims to shore, and arrives decently, if damply, dressed. Then the others all arrive.] …. there is a meal of fish and bread already prepared for them. The food which they will eat will be his gift, not theirs. Jesus calls them to the meal and, in language which awakes memories of the desert feeding and of the Eucharist, takes and gives them bread and fish. In awestruck silence they eat. They dare not ask, “Who are you?”, for the answer could only be: “I AM.” So they eat what the Lord gives them and the sharing in the meal is the unveiling of the divine presence. (Newbigin, 276)
It is John, the beloved disciple, who recognizes the stranger and calls out “It is the Lord!” It is his insight and his proclamation that cause Peter literally to leap into action. This connection between insight, proclamation and action is vital to our life as Christians. If we say that Jesus is lord and then do nothing about it, then our words do not spring from genuine insight and belief. We are merely saying what we have been taught to say or what we think other people would like us to say. On the other hand, we can be tireless in good deeds, but this may be because we like to be busy, or to be well thought of, or enjoy telling other people what to do. The deeds are about us, not about Jesus.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1) Reflect on the connection between insight and action with relation to what the people of Israel promise about hearing and doing in passages such as Exodus 19:8, 24:3 & 7: 2) 2) Think of the people in your life who have helped you to know that Jesus is lord.
Bibliography: Newbigin, Lesslie, “Reunion in Galilee”, in The Light Has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel(Grand Rapids MI: 1982)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Anne Morton, Canada, ISPS-Ratisbonne Alumna: 2010