FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR FRIDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER
THEME: RECOGNIZING HIS PRESENCE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Jn 21:1-14
After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
The disciples were in the boat on their way home after a futile night of fishing. Jesus was standing on the shore. It is not easy to recognize somebody from that distance, especially with the early morning sun directly before one’s eyes. But still among the seven disciples in the boat, one of them recognizes Jesus: the Beloved Disciple.
What made John different from the other disciples that enabled him to recognize Jesus from that distance? The answer is his purity and unblemished love for the Lord. St. Anselm said, ʺGod revealed more mysteries to him than to the other Apostles, because he surpassed all in virginal purity.ʺ St. Thomas Aquinas writes, ʺHe was more beloved than all the other Apostles on account of his purity.ʺ
Only those who are pure in heart can see God in the many and varied aspects of daily life. This can be illustrated by the image of a glass window. At first, the light from the sun clearly passes through the window. But as dust and dirt collect on the surface of the glass, there is less and less light coming in. There is no problem with the sunlight; it is the dirt on the glass that diminishes the light.
Similarly, many people are unable to see Jesus, not because He is hidden but because of sins that render them spiritually blind. In His Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Himself taught, ʺBlessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.ʺ
This is the reason why, in yesterday’s Gospel, the Lord commissions His disciples to preach repentance in His name for the forgiveness of sins. In writing his Gospel account today, St. John points this out when he describes one seemingly small and insignificant detail: that Peter was naked. The New American Bible uses the euphemism “lightly clad.” When he heard it was the Lord, he puts on some clothes before jumping into the water to meet the Lord.
There is really nothing wrong with being naked, especially among fishermen. In the biblical context, nakedness is not something bad. Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness until they committed sin. Jesus took away the shame of nakedness by dying naked on the cross.
Most likely all the others in the boat were also naked, but did not see the need to cover themselves. But Peter finds it necessary to put on some clothes. He must have remembered his triple denial of the Lord. Shame and guilt make him cover himself. Very soon, however, Peter will regain his peace when Jesus made him do the triple confession of love and faith.
Then Jesus, in His usual tenderness and care, invites the weary fishermen to come and eat with Him the meal He has prepared for them – bread and fish. These have definitely eucharistic overtones. The Lord’s action is meant to remind the disciples of the multiplication of the loaves and what took place at the Last Supper. His post-resurrection appearances were not only to convince them that He is truly risen and alive, but also a strong assurance of His enduring promise of constant and abiding presence: “I am with you always until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). This always happens particularly through His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
At the beginning of every Eucharistic celebration, we do the Penitential Rite. We acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God for forgiveness. This is the only way to make ourselves properly disposed to participate in the celebration of the sacred mysteries. And with pure and sincere hearts, like John the Apostle, may we clearly see and recognize Jesus behind the sacramental signs of bread and wine, and exclaim with full conviction: “It is the Lord!”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches