This Sunday’s Gospel passage from John is one of the most glorious of post-resurrection accounts. It is the one in which Jesus appears on the shore and advises the disciples in their boat to cast their nets “to the right side” where they will make such a catch that will nearly break the nets for such abundance*. Then Jesus invites them to bring some of their fish over to have breakfast together. Now stop right there.
First of all, this is a “post-resurrection account” by John (self-described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”), and like other such accounts it is meant to convey that Jesus is truly resurrected in a human, albeit, “glorified body”—he is eating and drinking with them. Later, St. Paul will emphasize in his teaching, “so will we!” It strikes me that, like the overabundance of fish, this is almost more that we can handle or grasp. Like Jesus, we will eat and drink after our resurrection? What? After we rise from the dead we will have bodies and eat and drink?—”But wait! If you order now, we’ll double your order!…” Yes, there is more. There is eternal life.
These past days of the Easter season I have been exploring with you what it means “to live the risen life.” Jesus’ words to his disciples that they should bring part of their own catch of fish to share at a morning meal holds an important insight into living the risen life of faith, hope, and love—simply that we bring our very selves to the banquet and what we have to offer. A good way to think about it is, well, you know how someone might invite us “for a coffee” or “to meet for lunch”? Is this not really a desire to be present to each other and to celebrate relationship? Great good can overflow from such a meeting: a charitable nonprofit might be planned out on a napkin—or, more powerfully—a person feeling terribly alone might be relieved on his or her loneliness.
Beyond providing a testimony of Jesus having truly risen from the dead, then, today’s gospel account from John is a revelation of Jesus’ kingdom come and his Church begun. We know that his sharing a meal with his disciples is both a powerfully redeeming presence and a signal that he will multiply our good works to the point of nets breaking. What a wonderful advance towards Pentecost! —Msgr. Richard
(*If you miss the stewardship implication here, color yourself a tough study in discipleship.)