It is generally believed that so-called Fish Stories usually include at least some — if not a whole lot — embellishment and exaggeration. The teller of the tale wants people to know what a spectacular fisher he or she is. Today’s gospel, however, is different. Peter and some of the apostles are in the right place, with a proper boat, using good equipment, and drawing upon the experience of some of them as professional fishermen…….. But they caught nothing.
Every miracle story has something to say about Jesus and to teach us about discipleship — what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. Here are some valuable lessons for any who call themselves Christian.
- First, we will have no success in our lives as Christians without Jesus. The apostles were fishing on their own and came up empty handed, nothing but sore muscles and wet nets. With Jesus and in a few minutes they accomplished what they failed to do working at it all night. Elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Jesus names himself the Way, Truth, and Life. It is all too easy to rely more on ourselves and forget to seek God’s help, to let Jesus show us and be our Way.
- Second, obey the Word of God even if it does not make sense. The risen Lord Jesus watches us rely more on ourselves than him. How sad it must make him. Yes, Jesus loves us as we are, but he loves us too much to let us stay that way. We are all called to grow in our relationship with God. And the way He changes us is through obedience. When we decide to obey Him, no matter how we’re feeling, no matter what we may want to do, and no matter whether it makes sense or not, Jesus is honored. Did it make sense to cast the net on the other side of boat? Not really. But they did and look what happened.
- Third, be eager to spend time with Christ. Yes, John recognized Jesus first, but it was Peter who couldn’t wait till they rowed the boat to shore. Instead, he jumps into the water to get to Jesus sooner rather than later. True Christian seek Jesus out by praying, reading the gospels, celebrating the sacraments, and helping others in his name. Our church is usually open during the day, stop by and make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
- Finally, Christians come to Jesus to be fed. We do that primarily when we celebrate and share the Eucharist. All too often, we don’t come to Mass and miss out on this holy food. From the first century, a fish has been a Christian symbol. The Greek word for fish ichthus makes an acrostic with each letter telling us who is our Lord: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior! Just as the Lord fed the apostles and disciples with his Body and Blood at the Last Supper and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Risen Lord feed us here and now, today.
The gospel of John includes a wonderful fish story. Believe what it teaches and practice what it preaches.