April 9, 2021 – Friday within the Octave of Easter
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/040921.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 did not know yet that the Lord is alive. 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 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 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. They wanted to give up. But, at dawn 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.
Then, the “beloved disciple” recognized that it was the Lord Jesus. Jesus is alive and waiting on the shore. This prompted Peter to jump into the sea in order to meet the Lord with excitement and joy.
This reminds us that there will be times of sorrow, of disappointment and discouragement, times of fear and failure. We might 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.
Indeed, this happened to the disciples and because they retreated into the night of fear, they caught nothing. They thought that they could catch fish by themselves alone. They believed 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.
The Risen Lord invites us today.
First, when we meet failures and difficulties, do not go back to the old ways and old habits (which could be our addictions and depressive behaviors). This will only bring us into deeper darkness and hopelessness. Rather 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 is lighter when we are with somebody else whom we can trust, whom we can share our story. Find and build long lasting friendship, build a deeper family relationship, invest in your relationships. 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. Hinaut pa.