The Mercy the Apostles Proclaimed

May 7, 2019

The Mercy the Apostles Proclaimed

Imagine the disciples after Jesus’ painful crucifixion and then his glorious resurrection.  Their beloved Master’s death on the Cross had just thrown them completely.  They were overcome with panic, fear, and helplessness.  But then they found his grave empty, and then he appeared to them.  After the mourning came tremendous joy.  The Lord is alive!  He is risen!

Soon afterward, however, they realized that life had to go on.  Jesus is indeed alive, but he is no longer in this world.  He appeared to them, but he was no longer living with them.  What should they do now?  He was close to them, but they had to take charge of their lives.  What happened to them is a model for us because we believe that Christ is risen and is very close to us, but, even so, he does not take away from us the trouble of going about our daily lives.  Life has to go on.

For the Apostles, this meant that they returned to their old work.  So, in our gospel today we find them fishing.  They had to make a living somehow.  In their first night out, they caught nothing.  Correspondingly, they did not recognize Jesus standing at the shore at first.  But then they heed the advice of a stranger and throw their net out one more time.  When they suddenly found their net brimming with fish, they began to comprehend that it was Jesus standing there on the shore.

We have similar experiences in daily life.  Jesus is no longer visible among us.  He does not even appear anymore to us.  Yet, there are situations in the middle of the cares of daily life when we suddenly become aware that, as the beloved disciple exclaimed, we say, “It is the Lord!”

We can experience this joy amid many seemingly impossible difficulties whenever something occurs like the enormous catch of fish.  Then we are clearly aware that we have not achieved it ourselves.  Then, our awareness of Christ being close to us gives us great joy.

So why the number 153 to describe how many fish were caught in the net?  There have been many attempts to explain it throughout Catholic tradition.  But all of the explanations have in common that the number signifies the fullness of God which is revealed to the Apostles.  Life goes on.  And Jesus is there, helping me, and giving me signs of his presence – sometimes so much so that we are as astonished as Peter at the catch of 153 large fish.

Father Tony