15 April 2018

posted 14 Apr 2018, 08:57 by C S Paul

15 April 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

First Sunday after New Sunday

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

John 21:1-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

Breakfast by the Sea

21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 

Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 

Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 

But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 

Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 

13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

by Rev. Dr. Mathew C. Chacko

Gospel Reading: John 21:1-14

Christ is Risen!

The Resurrection appearances of Jesus are the continuing meditation of the Church during Sundays after Easter. They had basically one purpose: to confirm the faith of the disciples in Jesus as the Savior and Lord and to strengthen them in their faith as their Savior and their trust in him as their Lord and Master. These in turn were to prepare them as his witnesses and to make them his apostles.

It could have been interesting, and perhaps amusing, if Jesus appeared to Pontius Pilate, the chief priests Annas or Ciaphus, or even Herod, the King. But he did not.

He appeared to his own only. For the believers, the day of Resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of a new age. St. Augustine writes, "The day of resurrection is the eschatological, eighth day, which ushers in the new creation represented by the new week, --- the first day of the new era of salvation" [ACCS Commentary on LUKE, p. 373.] This extra ordinary event, a complete contrast of the experience on the Friday previous to that, turned their perception of reality so drastically that they saw Jesus in an entirely different way. The apostle to India, Thomas, doubted the veracity of the Resurrection and vowed that he would not believe unless he himself saw Jesus and felt his nail-pierced hands and his wounded side. The Savior appears to the disciples at the next Eucharistic assembly and asks Thomas to see and touch and believe. Those who doubt the doubter's authenticity as an apostle of Jesus should open their mind's eyes at the appearance of Jesus just for Thomas, as it were. The trauma that the disciples were going through at his mockery trial is not hard to understand if you are a believer. Those who truly experience the Resurrection of Jesus by faith only can understand the eleven disciples' struggle at this point of their spiritual journey. However, Thomas believed and confessed and perhaps took his rightful place along with the ten, who were there when Jesus first appeared to them as a group.

In the doubts of the disciples is born the foundation of our faith. St. Leo explains: "Their 'seeing' instructed us, their 'hearing' informed us, their 'touching' strengthened us. Let us give thanks for the divine plan and the necessary 'slowness' of the holy fathers. They 'doubted' so that we need not doubt." Ibid., p. 376.

St. Luke narrates the story of the appearance of Jesus to his disciples where he had dealt with their doubts, not in the same way, but in similar fashion. See Luke 24: 36-42. 36. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questions arise in your hearts? 39. See my hands and feet, it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has no flesh and bones as you see that I have" 41. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42. They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43. And he took it and ate before them.

This passage resembles the account given in today's reading, but not same instance, but another rendering of Jesus' Resurrection encounter. Not only Thomas had doubts and questions, but all of them in various degrees intensity. Even John may have his own doubts and questions. John does, however, recognizes the Lord faster, because he was in tuned with the Master closer than any one else. It seems to be a slow process for the disciples to accept Jesus' Resurrection appearances as real and authentic and that Jesus is alive again!

The miracle that we see here in this story has several aspects. The heavy catch, the net not being torn, and the visitor with fireplace and fish on it. Where did he get the fire and the fish? The Creator, once confined to this earth's condition, while he was walking on this earth, of using the created things, now is creating out of nothing.

How much the disciples at this point have pondered about these events and understood their significance is beyond our understanding. These Resurrection appearances of Jesus, however, have instilled in them a faith and a hope helping them recall and confirm everything that Jesus spoke to them, while he was with them.

What are the lessons we can learn from today's Gospel?

1. We all like miracles. We expect miracles. We pray for miracles. Miracles do happen everyday in our lives. Some times we may not even notice them. We may call them coincidences. But miracles, when they do take place in our lives, they should open our inner eyes, spiritual eyes in better terms, so that we recognize our Lord in the midst of it and make our recommitment in our trust and obedience to him and his Word.

2. Many of us are still fishing, doing our older job of making money, position and power though we have accepted to follow Jesus in our ways of thought, word and behavior, and to continue his mission of calling people to be Christ's ambassadors. This is not a predicament of the lay folk, but sadly, it is the case with most of us clergy. While writing this I am not putting myself above lay or clergy who go fishing always and every where. I am examining myself to know for sure what I am doing with the Lord's call to be his servant and a fellow servant for and with others in the ministry.

3. It is unfortunate that our priests have to go fishing to earn a living. Ministry has become a secondary or part time job and the priests cannot do justice to their main calling, serving God and His people. It is a job that requires 24/7 commitment. But how can they do it? It is encouraging to see dedicated and brilliant young men who are born and raised in this country, aspiring to be priests in our Church. Perhaps, now is the time that we find ways in which these deacons and future priests can serve as full-time pastors.

4. Enticing people by promising miracles is a way of fishing which some "Churches" and perhaps most Churches are utilizing today. I remember one time that an honorable person in our Church promising prayers on peoples' behalf for ever if they contribute a one time offering of thousand dollars. He was assuring the prayers of a community that has taken upon itself intercessory prayer. This is leading people away from a trusting relationship with God. A miracle is a sign according to St. John, the apostle, and the purpose of it is to manifest the glory of God and thereby a call to commitment or recommitment to trust and obedience. People go to shrines of saints expecting a miracle. That is OK as long as they know that the ultimate source is God and the saints are reflecting God's mercy and grace. We need to teach the use of miracles in their lives.

In summary, as the disciples were strengthened in their faith and commitment to following the Lord and dedicating themselves in his mission by these Resurrection appearance and the accompanied miracles, may we too through our worship together recommit ourselves to following him.

Indeed, He is Risen.
Praise the Lord.