Lectio Divina: John 21:1-14
1) Opening prayer
Our God and Father,
through our risen Lord, Your Son Jesus Christ,
You have given us a message of hope
and a person to live for.
Free our faith from triviality and routine
and fill us with His Spirit of courage,
that we may learn to live
with the insecurities of the change of renewal
ever-demanded by the gospel
and by the needs of the times.
May our Christian living bear witness
to the name of Him by whom we are saved,
Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 21:1-14
Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. 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. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 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.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. 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. 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. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 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. 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. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
• Chapter 21 of the Gospel of Saint John seems like an appendix which was added after the Gospel had already been written. The conclusion of the previous chapter (Jn 20:30-31) makes one suspect that it is an addition. However, whether it is an addition or not, it is the Word of God, which presents to us the beautiful message of the Resurrection on this fifth day of Easter week.
• John 21:1-3: The fisherman of men returns to be a fisherman of fish. Jesus has died and has risen. After three years of life together with Jesus, the disciples returned to Galilee. A group of them find themselves together at the lakeshore. Peter goes back to the past and says: “I am going fishing!” The others answer: “We will come with you!” Thus, Thomas, Nathanael, John and James together with Peter go to the boat to go fishing. They go back to the life of the past as if nothing had happened. But something did happen. Something was taking place! The past did not return! “We have caught nothing!” They return to shore, tired. This had been a night filled with frustration.
• John 21:4-5: The context of the new apparition of Jesus. Jesus was on the shore, but they did not recognize Him. Jesus asks, “Little children, have you anything to eat?” They answer, “No!” In the negative response they realize that the night had been deceiving because they had caught nothing. They had been called to be fishermen of men (Mk 1:17; Lk 5:10), and they go back to be fishermen of fish. But something had changed in their life! The experience of three years with Jesus produces in them an irreversible change. It was no longer possible to return to the past as if nothing had happened, as if nothing had changed.
• John 21:6-8: “Throw the net out to the right of the boat and you will find something.” They did something which perhaps they had never done in their life. Five experienced fishermen obey a carpenter who orders them to do something which is in contrast to their experience. Jesus, that unknown Person, who is on the shore, orders them to throw the net on the right side of the boat. They obey; they throw the net, and behold the unexpected result. The net was full of fish! How was this possible? How to explain this surprise so unexpected, unforeseen! Love makes one discover. The beloved disciple says, “It is the Lord”. This intuition clarifies everything. Peter jumps into the water to get close to Jesus very quickly. The other disciples follow him, pulling the boat, and dragging the net full of fish.
• John 21:9-14: The kindness of Jesus. Coming ashore, they saw a charcoal fire which had been lit by Jesus, where He was roasting fish and bread. He asked them to take some of the fish they had caught, and immediately Peter went to the boat and towed the net containing one hundred and fifty-three fish. A great number of fish and the net did not break. Jesus calls the multitude, “Come and eat!” He had the kindness to prepare something to eat after a disappointing night during which they had caught nothing: a very simple gesture which reveals something of God’s love for us. “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?” because they knew He was the Lord. Recalling the Eucharist, John the Evangelist contemplates: “Jesus stepping forward took the bread and gave it to them.” Thus, he suggests that the Eucharist is the privileged place for the encounter with the Risen Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• Has it ever happened to you that someone told you to throw the net to the right side of your life, to do something contrary to your experience? Did you obey and throw in the net?
• The kindness of Jesus. How is your kindness in the small things of life?
• Do you recognize Jesus only after signs and miracles, or do you see Him in the simple acts of life, such as making a meal?
5) Concluding Prayer
Give thanks to Yahweh for He is good,
for His faithful love endures for ever.
Let those who fear Yahweh say,
“His faithful love endures for ever.” (Ps 118)