Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fishing and Shepherding

If you have attended Catholic Mass this weekend, you heard the Gospel reading from John 21:1-19 (or 1-14 if they did the shorter version). 

During the homily, I caught this one thing the priest said that I felt needed to be reflected on further. He said, "Today's gospel reading is mostly fishing and shepherding."

The first half of this passage, we see the disciples were at sea fishing, having no luck. Jesus was on the shore and instructed where to cast for fish. They followed his instruction and were successful. 

The second half of this passage, we see Jesus speaking to Simon Peter:
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep."
It may seem strange that these two things are chosen to be read together in one Sunday. Looking at the surface level only, what does fishing and shepherding even have to do with each other? When we look deeper, we see not only the importance of them together, but even the reason for their order. 

Think earlier in the story of Jesus, when he is gathering the disciples, he tells them at one point "I will make you fishers of men". Here, in the most simplest understanding, Jesus reminds them of this original call and that when they follow His direction, there will be triumph in the task. Put yourself in their shoes, life was good. They knew Jesus to be the Savior, then he died and appeared to them twice before this encounter. I am certain they must have been confused, processing all that had happened, trying to figure out exactly what they needed to do. He came to them this third time, "cast your nets to the right". As if to say, "don't you remember? Your task is simple, fish for men where I lead you". 

After reminding them of their mission, Jesus confirms the love Peter has for him and makes certain he is clear that his mission to lead the charge. Peter confessed his love for Jesus and was entrusted to feed and care for the lambs and sheep that belonged to God. 

Today, what does that mean for us? Maybe it means we should stand ready to here the voice of Jesus telling us where to 'cast our nets'. Maybe it means listening and obeying the ones who have confessed their love for Christ in a special way who have been entrusted with leading the charge in Peter's footsteps. 

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