Third Sunday of Easter, 2016
By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas April 10, 2016
As I'm sure most of you know I always do a certain amount of research and reading before writing these homilies. It happened that I'm reading a homily by a Deacon Ross Braudoin who uses a word I can't recall ever seeing before, and the word is reprise, (spelt, reprise) my dictionary wasn't much help because it didn't have the word either. The best I could come up with was that it's like retelling the story or a development of the story that comes to a final conclusion.
I have heard father Statz say from time to time that good music, or a good homily or a good story is always worth retelling, so is the case with our gospel stories. Deacon Ross, concluded that there are many reprises in the gospels, because these Gospels were written many decades after the initial incidents took place and the Gospel writers were aware of nuances in the stories that were used to instruct the people for which that particular gospel was written.
In the events we hear recounted today, Jesus and seven disciples are at the sea of Tiberius. The seven are fishing. This story is a reprise of a similar incident recorded earlier in which the disciples were also fishing. Then, they had caught nothing. In each case, Jesus instructs the disciples were to fish ... and result is an astonishing large catch.
In the first instance, Jesus used the catch to tell the disciples that they would become "fishers of men." They would bring into the reign of God those who would follow the Lord.
The disciples left everything to follow Jesus.
In the reprise of the catch of fish, Jesus builds on the teachings of the earlier catch. The disciples are ready for a new understanding and a new calling. First, we note that this whole scene takes place in this setting of hospitality. This is a Eucharistic scene. Jesus is the host who welcomes and feed the guests. "A charcoal fire with fish and bread" was very welcoming to fishermen who had spent the night on the sea.
Looking at the course of events and dialogue in this scene, we find a number of important reasons that this was added to the end of John's Gospel (whose first conclusion we read last week).
First, Jesus makes it clear that, as the risen Lord, He is truly a risen human person, not a spirit-person or an apparition. He builds a fire, prepares a meal and has breakfast with them.
Next, the catch of fish gives a lesson. The enormous quantity of fish is a reminder of the gracious bounty of God. Always, with Jesus there is not just enough, there is an abundance, even leftovers.
Finally, the dialogue between Jesus and Peter restates that Peter is to be leader of the disciples. That fact itself is a gracious gift. Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter may now have doubts as to his role among the disciples. Jesus makes it clear that He knows Peter's failures. In his characteristic Love and Mercy, He forgives Peter and restores him to his role of leadership. The threefold "do you love me" gives Peter the opportunity to reaffirm his love and commitment to Jesus.
Jesus had a call and a role for each of the disciples. In His resurrected presence among them, He strengthen their relationship to Him and their resolve to carry on the mission He had begun. That mission was now theirs. It is now ours!
Jesus will reprise His encounter at the sea of Tiberius with us, too, from time to time. In awareness and prayer, we will recognize Jesus standing on the shore of wherever we are in life. He will be gracious, shows Mercy and strengthen us in the work He has set up for each one of us. We can respond with Peter, "Lord, you know everything You know that I love You".
He will say to us follow me!
Be Good, Be Holy, Preach the Gospel always, using words and holy actions!
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.