Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

“After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples… and he showed himself in this way.” From John 21:1-19
“Everything is destroyed. The house is…..uninhabitable. So, we are holding on. The Lord will help us and we will win.” Resident in the Donetsk region of Ukraine after being shelled, interviewed on BBC News.

In today’s Gospel reading, John writes that the presence of Jesus at the Sea of Tiberius is the third time that he has appeared to the disciples – but it’s actually the fourth if Mary Magdalene’s experience early on Easter Day is also counted. The disciples have left Jerusalem and returned to a familiar location, the Sea of Galilee also being named after Emperor Tiberius. The men have resumed their fishing, taking up again their previous lives before the time spent with Jesus. But it’s a fruitless exercise – they toil all night and catch nothing and, by daybreak, they are presumably tired, fed up and hungry. And it’s at that point, at their lowest, that they encounter Jesus on the shoreline – although they don’t realise who it is.
At first, he simply tells them to cast their net once more, which could have met with a sharp rebuff after trying for a catch all night. However, the disciples do as Jesus asks and perhaps, from the shore, it’s more obvious where the shoals of fish are as the net is then filled with a huge catch of fish. Now, in being obedient to what he asks of them, the efforts of the disciples are transformed as they encounter their living Lord and, as John writes, Jesus showed himself in this way. John, the beloved disciple, is the first to recognise him, closely followed by Simon Peter who jumps into the sea leaving the others to drag the net back to shore.
What happens resonates with the miracle at Cana, where Mary simply says, “They have no wine,” just as Jesus says, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” At Cana, the water turned into wine is plentiful and good quality and the net, too, is full and the fish large. 
The hungry disciples then find that, first, their physical needs are answered as Jesus has prepared fish and bread for them to eat their fill. Then, their spiritual needs are met and Jesus commissions Simon Peter three times just as he denied Jesus thrice before his crucifixion. Simon Peter was physically naked in the boat and perhaps emotionally stripped back by grief and regret too but, as Jesus talks with him, he is commissioned to feed and tend the flock that Jesus entrusts to him. It’s a mark of the effect that this encounter with Jesus has on him that Peter goes on to fulfil this without future denial, even to the point of eventual martyrdom.
Like those first disciples, there are also times for all of us when we fail others or ourselves, when we are afraid or utterly exhausted, or when we want to return to the familiar past because the present or future is so threatening. Just as Jesus met the needs of those disciples then, so he will meet and renew us too today if we allow him to. That is the Easter hope as we face the challenges before us and as warfare continues to rage in Ukraine with those caught up in it facing suffering, displacement, death and destruction. As the resident of Donetsk said what he did (above) he held up an icon of Jesus and crossed himself. The battle for faith, hope, healing and courage will not easily be snuffed out as he personifies and as Simon Peter and the disciples now begin to discover – but, when he first meets them by the shore, Jesus calls these grown men Children because they still have so much to learn. 
Don’t we, too?
With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.