Glimpsing the risen Lord




Easter Friday (John 21:1-14)
The risen Lord appears to the disciples again continuing to build up their faith. But yet again they do not immediately recognise Him. On this occasion they are fishing in Galilee (or Sea of Tiberias) when someone calls to them and invites them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They do not recognise that the person is Christ. Nevertheless they do as they are told and they bring in a miraculous catch. The fish are in such great numbers that they cannot draw in the net, though the net does not break. Meanwhile Peter suddenly recognises that the person is the Lord.

This resurrection appearance has been long understood to have an allegorical meaning, as well as its literal meaning. In this episode we see symbolically the nature of the Church affirmed. The boat represents the Church, the sea the world, the fish those who enter the Church, and the net represents the unity of the Church that does not break but can contain unlimited numbers of members. If St Jerome is right and people thought then that there were 153 different species of fish, then symbolically the net of 153 fish symbolises the universality or catholicity of the Church, the Church for all nations and peoples. Peter in this episode represents the papacy and the magisterium (teaching authority) who leads the Church in confirming its members in the Faith.

The risen Lord’s invitation to breakfast is also a reminder of the Eucharist. In St John’s gospel the other reminder of the Eucharist is the feeding of the multitude, again at the side of Lake Galilee. Christ, the risen Lord, continues to invite us to His heavenly banquet. During Mass we hear the priest say, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” As we glimpse the risen Lord by faith, by gazing on the Eucharistic species, let us speak in our heart with St Peter’s joy, “It is the Lord!”


Fr Ian