The Ministry of ReconciliationSunday Readings
Third Sunday of Easter, April 18, 2010 (3EasterC)
By Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS
Podcast of the Sunday Readings
Sunday Bible Study Questions
Lecturas y Comentarios
New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
This story about Jesus and the Disciples in the shore of the sea of Tiberias is a touching one that portrays Jesus at his most human. It starts simply enough: Simon Peter says to the others that he is going fishing. They all say quickly and eagerly, “we will go with you.” They are, after all, fishermen.
We must remember that they had just returned from Jerusalem to Galilee. In Jerusalem, they were confronted with the terrible shock of Jesus’ arrest, torture and execution. They had left Jerusalem either out of fear for their own lives, or out of disappointment. Arriving in Galilee, they now try to get back to a normal life. The Jesus’ story is over. Going back to fishing will take their minds off what has happened to them. But it does not work.
People who have been through a great Trauma such as the end of a dictatorship or release from prison can recognize that Simon Peter and the Disciples are feeling. They want to distance themselves as quickly as possible from the pain they have endured and the horrors they have seen. They try to pick up their shattered lives and lose themselves in the ordinary ways of doing things.
But it never seems to work. So it is for the disciples. They come up empty. Their boat may not be laden with fish, but the disciples are carrying the heavy burden of their past with them. Being relieved of those burdens is a long and difficult experience for most people. The Disciples in the boat are like most of us, wanting to escape those burdens but finding them always still with us.
Daylight breaks. A stranger appears on the shore and asks them about their fishing. He addresses them affectionately as, “children,” a favored appellation of the believing community in John’s gospel. This attitude sets the scene for what is to follow. When the disciples reply that they have been unable to catch any fish, Jesus suggests that they try lowering their nets on the other side of the boat. In their earnest efforts to escape the past and enter an ordinary life, they have been fishing , almost obsessively, in the same place.
As they struggle to haul on board their nets bulging with a large catch of fish, the Beloved disciple recognizes the stranger. He echoes the words of recognition that have been heard earlier in the other appearances stories, “It is the Lord!”
The Disciples are no doubt surprised to find that not only is Jesus standing there on the shore, but there is also a charcoal fire, on which some fish are cooking, and also some bread. Jesus invites them to add some of the fish that they have caught.
And then he says, “Come and have breakfast.” The disciples are left speechless. Jesus does not only share a meal with them as he had always done before, but he prepares it himself. To the notion of the shared fellowship of a meal Jesus adds the importance concept of hospitality. He, the Lord, is also their servant.
Bread and fish together recall the story of the multiplication of loaves and the fishes, a sign of God’s abundance. They portend the abundance of the grace of reconciliation that is about to flow into the disciples’ hearts. A new day is indeed breaking.
The ministry of reconciliation begins with a careful but intense accompanying of victims. This accompaniment is marked by a listening patience that allows the victim to reveal that which is a burden. Then comes the hospitality, the second moment in the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus knows how to create a hospitable environment. A hospitable environment exudes trust and kindness. It also creates an atmosphere of safety.
Then, after breakfast, Jesus turns to Simon Peter. Three times, he asks him, “Do you love me?’ Peter’s response, impulsive as ever, but nonetheless genuine. Yes, he does love Jesus. and more important, Jesus knows that Peter loves him. Jesus’ reply to Peter comes as a surprise, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus is now reconnecting Peter to himself and to the community and commissions Him.
This resurrection story describes the four steps in the ministry of reconciliation involving accompaniment, hospitality, making connections and commissioning.