Recognizing JesusSunday Readings
Third Sunday of Easter, April 18, 2010 (3EasterC)
By Fr. James Gilhooley
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New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
I have been told of a young man who periodically puts a few hundred dollars together. Then he invites some poor youngsters to join him on a day's outing at an amusement park. He puts the kids on the rides until they have had enough. Then he takes them into a fancy restaurant for a sit-down meal. One six year old pulled his face long enough out of his shrimp cocktail to ask his host, "Mister, is your name Jesus?"
When the curtain goes up on today's Gospel, the apostles are broke and hungry. Since many of them were fishermen, they did what comes naturally. Their supper was out there swimming in the Sea of Tiberias just waiting to be caught. But the fish proved to be much smarter than they and went on a holiday. The score was fish 11 and apostles 0.
They had spent the whole night on the water and they had caught nothing but a bad cold and a vile temper. As they headed toward land, the more hungry imagined they heard the fish laughing uproariously at them.
The sun had just risen gloriously out of the east. However, the men in the boat were not of a mind to enjoy it. Standing on the shore and checking the scene out stood the Teacher. None of them picked Him off. Why not? Perhaps a mist coming off the waters limited their visibility. Or very possibly the resurrected Christ was different in appearance than the one whom they had spent the last three years with. If affirmative, that does raise interesting questions about the appearance of our own risen bodies down the road.
Incidentally, I wonder how many times we have seen Jesus without recognizing Him. Remember the neighbor who brought you over a hot supper when you had a death in the family.
In any event, the stranger ordered them to drop their nets again. What is remarkable is that they obeyed him. Why remarkable? For openers, professional fishermen are smart enough to never, never throw their nets over the starboard side. Those were His instructions. And secondly dropping the huge 330 feet nets over the boat was almost a day's work in itself. These men were exhausted. They desperately needed sleep.
Once again, Jesus had woven a spell over people. It is the same spell incidentally that brings us to honor and worship Him today. His drawing power is explained in the poet's line: "The image of the Master, one glimpse and we are in love."
We all know the rest of the story. Hundreds of surprised and indignant fish were caught in the nets. It was impossible to get the nets back into the boat. After much back-breaking labor, they tied the nets to the large boat as best they could.
Courtesy of "the disciple Jesus loved," they knew now who their Benefactor was. When they came ashore, they saw that the Master was preparing their breakfast. With something approaching incredulity, they watched Him toast bread and roast their freshly caught fish over a simmering charcoal fire. They ought not to have been too surprised. He had told them often enough that you cannot tell people about God when their stomachs are empty. Perhaps you can understand better now why the Church has so many collections for the poor.
Just think about it for a moment! We are speaking here of the same Christ who has been saluted in music by people of genius. This is the very same Jesus about whom literally countless books have been written, world-class pictures drawn, and poems composed. This is the very same Saviour after whom countries and cities have been named. And, wonder of wonders, He consents to be a short-order cook and waiter for people who are hungry.
The next time you are asked to do something for somebody and you think it beneath your dignity, do me a favor. Reflect on this Gospel and then go out and do whatever the task is. You will find yourself in very good company.
But hurry! Every day TIME magazine estimates 40,000 children - more than one every second - succumb to diseases linked to chronic hunger.
Would it not be wonderful if some day a six year old can look at us with large eyes over the shrimp cocktail we have just bought him and inquire, "Hey, is your name Jesus?"