Today’s Gospel narrative shows us the rehabilitation of Peter, who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas, repented, and then received Primacy in the Church from Jesus. The Gospel also shows us God in search of man, even when man tries to evade Him.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit transformed Peter, whom Jesus had appointed head of his Church, from a man fearful of powerful men into a brave witness to the Resurrection. Peter stands before the Jewish Supreme Court – the Sanhedrin — boldly announcing that he and the others must obey God rather than men. The second reading, taken from Revelation (the Apocalypse), presents John’s vision of the Risen Lord as the glorified “Lamb of God,” enthroned in Heaven. The whole of Revelation is an expression of Christian hope in the Risen Lord. Today’s Gospel tells the post-Resurrection story of our merciful Saviour Who goes in search of His band of disappointed and dejected disciples. The incident proves that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances were not mere hallucinations. In the first part of today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to His disciples and gives them a symbol of their mission in a miraculous catch of fish followed by a grilled fish breakfast prepared by Jesus himself. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon where Simon is asked three times whether he loves Jesus, and he answers that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus. The two metaphors used in the story, namely fishing and shepherding, are the duties of the Church in her missionary work. Peter, as a forgiven sinner, is chosen for the quality of his love to serve as leader in a community of brothers and sisters. As his primary mission, Peter is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.
We need to open our eyes, ears, and hearts wide to see, hear, and experience the Risen Lord coming into our lives in various forms, circumstances, and events. The Risen Lord blesses us with success and achievements. We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the Risen Lord behind our unexpected successes, great achievements, promotions at work, miraculous healings, and success in relationships. He is right there in our parties, celebrations, and occasions of rejoicing.
The Risen Lord is present in our pains and suffering: Acts 9:1-13 tells us how the Risen Lord transformed the life of Saul by pushing him down onto the Damascus Road and making him temporarily blind. The same Jesus often visits us in the form of accidents, illnesses, the loss of dear ones, pain, suffering, and problems in relationships. The Risen Lord visits us through our friends and well-wishers: He is present in those who visit us and encourage us in our sad and desperate moments. The Risen Lord visits us in the form of unexpected help from the least expected persons in our dire needs.
The Risen Lord is present in our Christian worship: He is present on our altars during the Holy Mass to share His life with us; He is present in the words of Holy Scripture; He is there in the Sacraments, and He is there where two or three are gathered in his name (Mt 18: 20).