Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something. “ (Jn 21:5-6)
I was never good at catching fish. I think, if my memory is correct, that I went fishing once or twice when I was very young with no results. I am not very comfortable being in a boat and I do not have the patience to wait until a fish bites on the bait. Yet when I lived at St. Francis , I remember how people would go fishing in Lake Michigan near the old power plant. The water was warm and yielded a lot of smelt and other fish. From now until late fall, many people can be seen at ponds, rivers and lakes, hoping to get a big catch. If not successful, they can at least tell stories of the “one that got away.”
Today’s gospel from John 21 gives us a glimpse of the early church after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Rather than viewing the gospel story of the appearances of the Risen Lord as a consecutive series of events, I would like to suggest that they reveal the experiences of the early church as they tried to put the pieces together of the Passover events that included the death of Jesus and his burial, the empty tomb and resurrection appearances of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit who led them to give bold witness as we see in Acts 5. The challenge for the apostles was how to live after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. Were they to return to their former life of fishing and stay stuck in the past or were they to move forward and live joyfully in the Spirit?
In my fortieth year of “fishing” as a priest, I can echo the same sentiments. I have seen some successes and great failure. There were times when I spent a lot of effort working on projects or developing programs or laying the groundwork for future collaboration with little results. But I can also give witness that when I let God take charge and be open to surprises, the catch of fish was abundant. Jesus always provides breakfast and free of charge!
Please pray for the approximately 75 young adults from our area who will be confirmed this weekend at St. Michael’s. May the Holy Spirit set their hearts on fire. Thanks to our parents, sponsors and to Ralph Stewart at ESCYM for their part in shaping the lives of these intentional disciples.
He is risen, alleluia!!
Fr. Mike Michalski