Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
Third Sunday After Easter (C)

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Christ at the Sea of Tiberias - by TINTORETTO - from National Gallery of Art, Washington


John 21:1-19 (C)

At the Sea of Tiberias Jesus showed Himself to the disciples [once again]. This is how the appearance took place. Assembled were Simon Peter, Thomas ("the Twin"), Nathanael (from Cana in Galilee), Zebedee's sons, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going out to fish". "We'll join you", they replied, and went off to get into their boat. All through the night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak Jesus was standing on the shore, though none of the disciples knew it was Jesus. He said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat"? "Not a thing", they answered. "Cast your net off to the starboard side", He suggested, "and you will find something". So they made a cast, and took so many fish they could not haul the net in. Then the disciple Jesus loved cried out to Peter", It is the Lord"! On hearing it was the Lord, Simon Peter threw on some clothes -- he was stripped -- and jumped into the water.


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Jesus cooks fish on a charcoal fire as Simon Peter swims ashore to greet Him


Meanwhile the other disciples came in the boat, towing the net full of fish. Actually they were not far from land -- no more than a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with a fish laid on it and some bread. "Bring some of the fish you just caught", Jesus told them. Simon Peter went aboard and hauled ashore the net loaded with sizable fish - - one hundred fifty-three of them! In spite of the great number, the net was not torn.

"Come and eat your meal", Jesus told them. Not one of the disciples presumed to inquire "Who are You"? for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This marked the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after being raised from the dead.

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Crucifixion of Saint Peter - by CARAVAGGIO -
from Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

When they had eaten their meal, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these"? "Yes, Lord", Peter said, "you know that I love You". At which Jesus said, "Feed My lambs".

A second time He put His question, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me"? "Yes, Lord", Peter said", You know that I love You". Jesus replied, "Tend My sheep".

A third time Jesus asked him, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me"? Peter was hurt because He had asked a third time, "Do you love Me"? So he said to Him: "Lord, You know everything. You know well that I love You". Jesus told him, "Feed My sheep.

"I tell you solemnly:
as a young man
you fastened your belt
and went about as you pleased;
but when you are older
you will stretch out your hands,
and another will tie you fast
and carry you off against your will".
(What He said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God.) When Jesus had finished speaking He said to him, "Follow Me".


Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
Third Sunday After Easter (C)

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crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes) In today's Gospel we hear what happened the first time that Jesus met personally with Peter since His Rising from the Dead. The last time that Jesus spoke with Peter was after the Last Supper. On that occasion Jesus had told the Apostles that they were all going to Desert Him. Peter had said to Him, "Even though all desert You, I will not". Jesus said to him, "This very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny Me three times". But Peter insisted saying "Even though I must die with You, I will not deny You." Now we know what happened after that. Peter did in fact Deny Jesus three times. And when the cock crowed and Jesus turned and looked at Peter, Peter went out and wept Bitterly. Since that incident, this is the first time that Jesus is meeting personally with Peter.

Since His Resurrection Jesus had indeed appeared many times to the Apostles but He said nothing to Peter. He knew that Peter had gone through a very Humiliating Experience and He would not want to add to his Shame. He knew that His next conversation with Peter was going to be Hard for Peter so He took his time and waited for the best moment.

This time He comes again to be with the Apostles, but He does not rush into the topic. First He appeases their Hearts with the Miraculous catch of fish. Then He prepares breakfast for them. It is only after they have had their breakfast that He takes it up with Peter. If He spoke about it before the meal, Peter would probably have Suffered a Loss of Appetite.

Here is a lesson for us all who want to make Peace in the family or between friends. There is an opportune time to talk about Problems. Sometimes we Complicate issues because of our Impatience. From Jesus we can learn this: before you take it out with your husband/wife/child, first prepare a meal for both of you to eat, and when you have eaten and are relaxed, then you can calmly talk about the Problem. You will find that both of you will reach an understanding in a more Loving and Satisfying manner. But when we rush into Problems with Anger, when we Holler and Nag about it, we complicate the Problem and we never really resolve it in a satisfying manner.

This story of Jesus' conversation with Peter by the Sea of Tiberias is known as Peter's Confession. Here Peter confessed his Failure and was reconciled with Jesus. How did Peter confess his Failure? To see that, you have to read the story in Greek, because the English translation does not bring out the subtle nuances that are going on in the story. You see, when Jesus says to Peter "Do you love Me" and Peter says "Yes, Lord, You know I love You," the Love that Peter is talking about is different from the Love that Jesus is asking about.

In Greek there are Three different words translated by the One English word Love.

Eros, means Sensual or Erotic love like the feeling between Rose and Jack in the Titanic;

Philia, means Love of Admiration for a worthy person or thing, like love of a teacher, love of parents, love of art; and

Agape, means Self-Sacrificing Love, when there is nothing to be gained from the person we Love, such as the Love that Christ has for us that made Him give up His Life for us ungrateful sinners.

In the Gospel Story Jesus is asking Peter, "Do you have Agape for Me"? i.e. "Do you Love Me in such a manner as to Sacrifice your life for Me"? Peter knows that he has Denied Jesus in order to Save his life. So what does Peter answer? He answers, "Yes, Lord, I have Philia for You" meaning, "Yes, Lord, You know how much I deeply admire You and would like to be like You". You see why it is a Confession? Peter is saying to Jesus, "Yes, I Love and Admire You, but no, I have not been able to Love You with a Self-Sacrificing Love as You deserve".

So Jesus asks him a Second Time whether he has Agape for Him and Peter replies again that he has Philia for Him. So finally, Jesus unwilling to Embarrass him further now asks him "Do you have Philia for Me"? And Peter answers "Yes, I have Philia for You". The Peter we see here is not the Loud-Mouthed, Boastful man who thought he was better than others, but a Wiser, Humbler man who would not claim more than he can deliver.

God Loves us when we Humble ourselves and Confess our Failures and Weaknesses before Him as Peter did. For it is only then that He can fill us with His Grace, for as the Lord said to Saint Paul "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Power is made perfect in Weakness" (2Corinthians 12:9). God does not demand that we be Perfect, God only demands that we be Sincere and Honest.


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