A reading from the gospel according to John 21:1-19:
1 At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way.
2 Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”
6 So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
7 So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.
8 The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.
9 When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
11 So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
12 Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
13 Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.
14 This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
15 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.”
16 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.”
17 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.
18 Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19 He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Reflection: The Peter in us
Let us recall how Jesus called Peter to become a fisher of men. It happened on that seashore one morning when he and his companion were about to go home after a night of disappointment because they have not caught any fish. After a boatful of catch upon His instruction, Jesus asked them to follow Him. Followed Him they did and for the next three years, Peter was eyed and trained to be the leader of the community Jesus formed. At one time, Jesus called him Satan for protesting His impending suffering and death.
On the night Jesus was about to be resurrected, Peter declared with bravado that he is ready to lay down his life for Jesus. To his shame perhaps, Jesus foretold how he will deny Him three times. It did occur that when Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Him on three occasions when he was recognized as one of His disciples. To his credit, he was filled with guilt and mourned his mistake.
After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to His disciples several times. Still, the apostles including Peter were inclined to go back to their old life, to their usual livelihood which is fishing. That was not what Jesus planned for them. In the gospel reading above, Jesus was there again at the time they had caught nothing. When Peter realized it was the Lord, we see his willingness or shall we say his immense enthusiasm to meet His Lord and Master whom he denied three times. We see him ready to put the past behind and renew his relationship with Jesus.
As before, they were again on the seashore. After feeding them with bread and fish, Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him more than the others. Peter answered in the positive. Previously, Peter denied Jesus three times and now Jesus had to asked Peter the question three times in order to emphasize the need for Peter to really commit himself to his mission of ‘feeding the lambs” of Jesus.
We are all like Peter. Jesus called each one of us to follow Him. We are also called to become fishers of men. Many times we become disappointed but on those times, Jesus would energize us with His body and blood in the Eucharist. Many times we deny Jesus through our sinful thoughts, words and deeds. Some of us would turn back on Jesus and abandon Him. Yet, Jesus does not give up on us. He continues to tell us, “Follow me.” Like Peter, let us love the Lord despite our weaknesses.