Fish by a fire

In the Gospel from today’s Mass (John 21:1-14), Jesus appears again to the disciples in Galilee:

[1] After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe’ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way. [2] Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan’a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb’edee, and two others of his disciples were together.  [3] Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.  [4] Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. [5] Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.”  [6] He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish.  [7] That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.  [8] But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.  [9] When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. [10] Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”  [11] So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.  [12] Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  [13] Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.  [14] This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus, always deliberate, has purposefully drawn parallels to the feeding of the 5000:

  • The last time that the disciples were eating by the sea of Galilee, Jesus was feeding the 5000 (John 6:1-14).
  • This meal is the same meal that was given at the feeding of the 5000:  bread and fish.
  • The language is very similar in both feeding events:  “took” and “gave” (John 21:13; John 6:11).

Why is Jesus drawing parallels to the feeding of the 5000?

  • He has demonstrated His power over nature prior to His death and Resurrection; Jesus now does so again to demonstrate that Risen, He continues to have the same kinds of miraculous powers.
  • He is reinforcing the real substance that the disciples can count on in the challenging time of evangelization ahead.
  • He is restoring relationships with the disciples, all of whom abandoned Him at the Crucifixion; sharing a meal was a sign of restoration and peace.
  • He is given the disciples a preview of the Heavenly Banquet which is to come.

Several other interesting observations:

  • Peter was at a charcoal fire the night before the Crucifixion and denied Jesus three times (John 18:18).  Jesus, with great poignancy, has prepared another charcoal fire (this time at the time of dawn) for Peter to warm himself.  A little later, Jesus will ask Peter three times to commit to serve Jesus (John 21:15-19).
  • Jesus has produced, cleaned (assumedly) and prepared fish to eat.  Jesus has also arranged to have bread at the meal.  Even as the Risen Lord, Jesus does physical things of everyday life.
  • Jesus, ever the servant, prepares the meal for the disciples.

Our Lord is awesome in His ability to put all things to His good use.  Jesus uses events and symbolism in His interactions with man, creating additional awe and wonder that engage our intellects and draw our wills to Him.

Every time that Jesus prepares a meal, we should pay attention.  Consider this, the next time you receive the Eucharist.