Let’s go fishing
It seemed to be a lot more popular in times past, but there were “Gone Fishing” signs everywhere. The idea was that the days of summer were lazy days, and sometimes the best decision was to put a sign up and leave work.
On some level, though for different reasons, this is what Saint Peter does in the gospel today. He is going to go fishing. Why? Why is it that Saint Peter finds himself wanting to go back to his former job? And why do the other apostles agree to come along? What does this scenario have to teach us about the resurrection of Jesus and our faith?
The end of the gospel indicates that Jesus has appeared twice before to the apostles. John 20:19-23 is the appearance Jesus makes when the disciples are locked in a room for fear. And John 20:24-29 is the appearances with and without the apostle Thomas. There is also the appearance Jesus makes to Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-20.
Given this, it is unlikely that the apostles have not encountered the risen Christ, even though they still do not immediately recognize him. In fact, it is not until they have the revelation of the fullness of the Trinity through the Holy Spirit that they completely change the way they go about in the world.
And what of the 153 fish? It could be seen slightly ironic that the man on the beach provides excellent advice to the men in the boat. That said, why is the exact total specified in the gospel account. There are many potential explanations (one being that is the exact number of fish caught) but I like this one. Jeff Cavins says the number 153 is the numerical total for the Hebrew phrase Ani Elohim, which means “I am God.”
For to grasp the full meaning of the resurrection implies professing Jesus as the Lord God, Second person of the Blessed Trinity. While they first encountered Jesus in his full humanness, it is essential to understand that they are now encountering the full divinity of Jesus.
Lastly there is the important point about fishing, then. The career at least of Peter and Andrew, and James and John, was fishing. But before Jesus, it was hard work, and their success or failure depended not only on their hard work, but also upon elements beyond their control.
After today’s fishing episode, fishing is now about the Lordship of Jesus. Jesus is God. The encounters the apostles have only reinforce it for them. Given the troubles in the world, it is not always easy to believe that Jesus has won the victory over death, but it is essential. More than just a good person. More than a kind man. He is the divine Son of God. And, his is risen! He is truly risen!
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