Summary: Third Sunday after Easter, Year C
Three more Fish Stories
1. "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"
They answered him, "No." John 21:5
1: Open fridge, nothing to eat.
2: Open cupboard, nothing to eat.
3: Lower standards and repeat.
The meaning of catching no fish is that they have saved no souls and earned no maintenance (J. Duncan M. Derrett), which suggests a parallel between the apostles’ empty nets and their perspective on their experience with Jesus.
It was difficult for them to understand what had happened to Jesus on the Cross. It is once again Jesus who ‘seeks’ his disciples.
2. They caught one hundred fifty-three large fish and the net was not torn. John 21:11
There are seven disciples present when the 153 fish are caught (John 21:2), while ten disciples received the Holy Spirit (John 20:24). The rabbis too stressed the importance of ten and seven. St. Augustine said that 17 represents the combination of divine grace (the 7 gifts of the Spirit) and law (the Ten Commandments), 153 equals 17 x 9 (triangulated: 3, 3, 3 to get the 9).
Fish are unowned until they are lifted out of the water.
The net not torn is a symbol of the Church. The moral of the story is that without Jesus our labor is in vain, but where he is present, when we heed his voice, the church's mission will prosper beyond all reckoning, e.g. Isaiah 9:3 says “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest.”
Note that without Jesus's intimate supervision the apostles were unable to acquire and safely secure their catch which is symbolic of the missionary saving their convert in the sense of Clement of Alexandria's great hymn to Christ, who saves fish from the sea of sin.
3). “They saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.” John 21:9
Jesus directs the church's mission and presides at the community's meal. Certainly, in primitive Christian iconography, meals of bread and fish (rather than bread and wine) were the standard pictorial symbols of the Eucharist.
Notice the progression from straightforward religious allegory about catching fish to represent evangelization and missionary work—to-- the realism of eating bread and fish. The embodied encounter with a Jesus who serves real food becomes the last word.
The Catechism in 1324 says “The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life.”
Christian spirituality flows from the Eucharist as its source, the way light streams forth from the sun, and its ordered to the Eucharist as its summit or highpoint – that to which all of our actions should ultimately be directed.
Jesus made them Easter breakfast. The laborer may consume some of the produce. Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18, Matthew 10:10, Leviticus 19:13, and Deuteronomy 24:15, all say that the laborer is worth his wage.
Tired and Discouraged? Look to the Shore: It Is the Lord! Jump in and swim as fast as you can, like Peter.
Humility is a virtue that is meant to bring us to terms with our limits.
Peter learned this when he had to make personal restitution for the three times he denied Christ while Jesus three times transferred to Peter Jesus’ own office as the Good Shepherd, i.e. Three times Jesus told Peter, “feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” It’s a wonderful thing that God lets us share in our own restoration.
And that is no fish story.