Today we read my favorite post-Easter gospel (JN 21: 1-14).
Seven of the disciples are together and probably still asking one another, “What do we do now?” The three brilliant years are over and they probably don’t see any sense in going on without Jesus around. Reports differ about sightings of Him and nothing seems to be happening to prove anything miraculous, so Peter decides to do the only thing he knows how to do. “I’m going fishing,” he says. They all decide to go with him but even that doesn’t seem worthwhile as they fish all night without any success. It’s only when the dawn comes and Jesus gives them a new way to fish that everything changes. “Cast your nets over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”
(Have you ever been prompted to try a new way to do something and realize that in the willingness to do so you have success? It’s all about letting go of the habitual to find the prize sometimes, isn’t it?)
Peter, ever the impulsive one, jumps into the lake as soon as he hears that it is Jesus who gave the advice that caused the reversal. I love that. (Have you ever seen the commercials or news clips of a soldier surprising family members by returning home without their knowledge? Everyone is trying to “hug the stuffing out” of the returnee amidst tears and cries of joy and relief.) That’s Peter, of course. Everything changes for him in that moment.
And Jesus…what a tender soul! He does such a simple, elemental service for his friends. He cooks them breakfast. I think of all the “old days,” – Sunday mornings when I was working in a parish – when all the religious education classes were over. I would steal a little time to drive the 3 or 4 minutes to my friend’s house for a visit. She always acted as if I were a great dignitary (or even Jesus himself) with her joyful exclamations of welcome and her command to “Come and eat!”
Sometimes it’s not the monumental moments in life but rather the simple things that we do for each other that mean the most and stay in our memory. I would wager that until his dying day Peter could still see that fire on the beach and taste the fish that Jesus cooked for him that morning that made everything worthwhile again and gave him the confidence to say, “Yes, Lord. You know all things. You know that I love you.”