April 17, 2020 – Friday within the Octave of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041720.cfm)
Jesus who was thought to be the Messiah and Son of God was crucified and died on Friday. He was buried in a tomb but on Sunday morning Jesus resurrected.
However, his disciples like Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and other disciples were not yet fully convinced that the Lord is alive despite the news from the women. These disciples only knew that their Lord was buried in a tomb. Because of this, their hearts were filled with pain, disappointment, with fear and doubts.
When Jesus was there at their side, they were filled with enthusiasm and spirit but when Jesus was arrested, they fled and when he was crucified, they hid themselves for fear of the Jews. Because of these negative experiences, they believed that they have failed the Lord, and so, they themselves were failures.
Their immediate response was to go back their old self, to retreat and not to go forward anymore. Because they believed that they were completely failures, they succumbed to the temptation to go back to their old ways and that was to fish. They have been called from being fishermen to become fishers of people, yet, having a painful and horrible experience on the death of Jesus, they retreated to go back to fishing. This was what Simon Peter and the rest of his gang did.
However, all night they caught nothing. The “night” in the Gospel is very symbolic because it reveals to us that the disciples were in darkness and they couldn’t find light. They felt hopeless and even in a helpless situation.
However, as the story of the Gospel was unfolded, it was during at dawn that a stranger appeared on the shore and asked them if they have caught anything. They all answered, “no,” they caught nothing. That stranger said, “cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” And they did! They trusted that stranger and to their surprise, when they pulled the net they could barely pull it back because there were plenty of fish.
It was at that moment, that the “beloved disciple” recognized that “it was the Lord Jesus.” Jesus is alive and there waiting on the shore. I always find this part of the story amazing and wonderful. The disciple whom Jesus loved had surely a closer relationship with the Lord. All of them were in darkness and all of them succumbed to their fear. However, because of the closer relationship with the Lord, the beloved disciple was able to find light in the midst of darkness. The beloved disciple realized the breaking of the dawn and so light has come. He realized that pain and death, sorrow and grief have all ended. Christ is alive. “It is the Lord,” as he said.
This prompted Peter to jump into the sea in order to meet the Lord with excitement and joy.
This gospel reminds us now, that as we go forward with life, surely, as we have experienced it now, there are times of sorrow, of disappointment and discouragement, times of fear and failure. We might have come into the point of our life where we feel hopeless and helpless because we have failed, because the situation is just too difficult, family problems are just horrifying, our poverty is just overwhelming, or our relationship with others have failed – and then, our immediate reaction is to retreat, to hide in our own failure and pain, to dwell so much on our problems, to go back to our old and bad habits, becoming fearful, anxious and mediocre – which means going into the darkness of depression rather into the light of hope and life.
True indeed, this was what happened to the disciples of Jesus and because they retreated into the night of fear, they caught nothing – because they thought that they could catch fish by themselves alone, that they could surpass that difficulty by being alone, but, no!
Being alone and separated from God only brought them into a deeper disappointment in life. It is when we are with Jesus that we find meaning and joy even in the midst of pain, of failure and difficulties.
These are the invitations for all of us.
First, when we meet failures and difficulties, do not go back to the old ways and old habits (which could be your addictions and depressive behaviors) that may only bring us into deeper darkness and hopelessness, instead, go forward and take the risk.
Second, in taking the risk of going forward never take the road alone, or never think that we can do everything by ourselves. The journey becomes lighter when we are with somebody else whom we can trust, whom we can share our story – so, find and build long lasting friendship, build a deeper family relationship, invest in your relationships. And when we are told to cast our net, to change the course of our boat and to change our life – go for it and trust the Lord because it might be in that direction that we will find the abundance of love and life.
Third, be always aware of God’s presence waiting for us on the shore. Just like the beloved disciple let us always be intimate with Jesus. It is only when we become intimate with Jesus in our prayer that we also become aware of his presence in everyone. Thus, be always conscious with those strangers you will meet along the way, who could be anybody as God’s image and representative for you. Hinaut pa
Jom Baring, CSsR