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Third Sunday of Easter C: May 1, 2022

John 21: 1-19

Fr. John tran

Today’s Gospel from John is likely an addition to the original form of gospel. It is trying to point our clearly that Jesus’ resurrection is not just a dream or vision, or an hallucination that the disciples had in the locked room on Easter evening. This appearance of Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias has Jesus doing things as well as eating with the disciples. He points out where the fish are; he has built a fire; he has prepared bread and fish to go on the fire; he invites them to eat with him, and the bread and fish remind them and us of the feeding of the five thousand earlier in John’s Gospel. So, for us, the hardest part of Jesus’ resurrection is not explaining what happened, but in deciding what we should do about it. If Jesus had given the disciples the Holy Spirit and sent them forth in the locked room on Easter Evening, with this appearance Jesus gives the explicit command to feed his lambs and sheep.

In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, the disciples remind us that we must witness to the good news of the resurrection -- even if it means hardship and persecution. This, of course, takes place after the appearance of Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias; the disciples have already become bold in service to the risen Jesus. When brought before the Jewish council, they chose to obey the higher commission of God to preach, rather than human regulations forbidding it.

In the second reading, we get a snapshot revealing how heaven responds to Jesus resurrection. All the heavenly creatures around God’s throne celebrate the resurrection as the final triumph of Christ over the forces of evil. They heap praise and honor and glory on Christ -- the new Lamb who was slain.

In the gospel, the risen Lord calls the disciples to a new future. Lost and uncertain about what to do after the resurrection, seven of them decide to return to their pre-resurrection lives as fisherman. But Christ interrupts their fishing to renew their call as disciples to be fishers of men. They are not to passively receive the Holy Spirit and go about their normal lives.

Jesus reminds Peter, who had denied him three times before the crucifixion, that love is the main condition of discipleship. Three times Peter professes his love, and three times Jesus reminds him that his love will demand caring for others. To love Jesus is not just some sentimental love for his person, like we would love and care for a parent, child, or spouse. It is love that goes beyond loving only the person of Christ; it is love just like Jesus had for anyone he met. Jesus’ love was not just for his Mother or disciples [‘who is my mother, my brothers and sisters? Anyone who hears the word of God and keeps it’]. It was not just a special love for the “disciple Jesus’ loved” who recognizes Jesus first. It is love for all who live and breath, or even for all who ever have.

Jesus final words to Peter also remind us that as we follow Jesus, we will be led in ways that we “might not want to go.” But, these will be ways that we will need to go if we are to be his faithful followers. And that is what we should do about the resurrection.

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