10 April 2016
John 21. 1-19
In the East the rising sun
rose above the heights of
After their fruitless
night’s fishing the weary men pulled at the oars as they headed for the
A voice hailed them from
the shore. A man, his white robe shining brilliantly in the sun light, was
standing on a rock at the edge of the shore. ‘Have you caught anything?’
‘Nothing’ they shouted
‘Try on the right’ he
said and they did. Suddenly they were all seven struggling with the net as it
closed round a mass of fish. Too many to haul aboard. They just held on to it
while others rowed the last hundred yards into the little harbour.
John had been thinking. It
was just like last time when Jesus told them where to fish and they’d caught
plenty. Suddenly it dawned on him. The man on the shore was Jesus. ‘It’s the
Lord’ he exclaimed. Peter heard him and without
a shadow of doubt he knew it was the Lord. He
grabbed his shirt and jumped into the water leading the way, as he’d always
done, to meet Jesus.
Jesus had breakfast already
prepared; fish were baking on the fire and bread beside it. He invited them to
eat and then add more of the fish that they’d just caught.
They counted their
catch:153 in all and apparently all good for eating. Perhaps it’s a number
which stuck in their minds because it was such an extraordinary event. Some
suggest that the number was thought to be all the different varieties of fish
that there were. Jesus had told them to fish for people to make them followers
of Jesus. So these fish were showing that every kind of human being is to be
caught for Jesus: all nations, all languages, all colours, all races, rich and
poor, clever and illiterate, healthy and disabled. All must be brought into
After breakfast Jesus drew
Peter to one side for a private conversation. Three times he asked Peter ‘Do
you love me’, expunging those three sad denials. We need not dwell on them.
Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep and his lambs. These are also his followers,
those who believe in Jesus and acknowledge him as their Lord. Such is the way of
religious discourse that fish can become sheep; both are metaphors for
disciples. In this conversation with the chief of the apostles the pastoral
image is appropriate, for Peter is to be the shepherd.
The final report of the
first Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, published in 1976,
‘The See of Rome , whose
prominence was associated with the death there of Peter and Paul, eventually
became the principal centre in matters concerning the Church universal. The
importance of the Bishop of Rome among his brother Bishops, as explained by
analogy with the position of Peter among the apostles, was interpreted as
Christ's will for his Church’.
It’s interesting and
significant that the reading from the Acts of the Apostles today is the account
of the conversion of
The ARCIC report concluded:
‘The only See which makes
any claim to universal primacy and which has exercised and still exercises such
episkope is the see of Rome, the city where Peter and Paul died. It seems
appropriate that in any future union a universal primacy such as has been
described should be held by that See’.
That future is, sadly, a long way off but it is what we pray for, as our Thursday Candle for the unity of Christians reminds us. Let us pray for that unity which Christ wills for his Church.
Crispin Harrison CR