3rd Sunday Easter
Sunday 1st May 2022
The Gospel Paraphrased
There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.
This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased
After these things, Jesus showed himself to the disciples yet again. It happened like this. A group of the disciples were together: Simon Peter, Thomas, called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ The others replied, ‘We’ll come to.’ So they went straight out, got into the boat and spent the night fishing but caught nothing.
Just as dawn was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore though the disciples didn’t recognise him. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you had a catch? They answered, ‘No!’ So Jesus called out, ‘Cast your net over the right side and you’ll have a catch.’ So they cast the net over and had such a catch they were incapable of dragging it into the boat. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said, ‘It is the Lord!’ Now when Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ slipped on some clothes, as he was practically naked, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples followed in the boat (they were close to shore) dragging the net, full of fish, behind them.
As they came ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread as well. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went and dragged the net onto the shore. It was full of fish – one hundred and fifty three of them, all of them large yet the net wasn’t even torn! Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat.’ None of the disciples dared to ask, “Who are you?” for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them and he did the same with the fish. This was the third time he revealed himself to his disciples after rising from the dead.
When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I care for you.’ He replied, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Jesus asked him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I care for you.’ He replied, ‘Feed my sheep.’ He asked him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you care for me?’ Simon was distressed that he had asked him a third time, ‘Do you care for me?’ and he answered, ‘Master, you know everything. You know that I care for you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Feed my sheep.’
‘Look I am telling you seriously when you were young you dressed yourself and went where you wanted but when you grow old, another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go.’ Speaking thus, Jesus indicated the type of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying all this, he said, ‘Follow me!’
The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.
This Sunday's Psalm
Ps 29:4-6, 11-13
I will give thanks to you, O God, for you have lifted me up
and not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord, my God I cried to you and you healed me.
You have brought my soul back from the grave.
Sing to God, all you holy ones.
Remember and acclaim God’s holiness.
His anger is just for a moment, his approval is for life.
Though weeping may endure through the night,
joy breaks with the dawn.
Hear, O Lord, be gracious to me.
God, be my helper.
You have turned by mourning into dancing,
removed my sackcloth and clothed me in joy.
O Lord my God, I will thank you forever.
Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.
This Sunday's Prayer
Loving God, you come to me when I feel lost and disillusioned, when I am overcome by my sin and failure. Let me listen to your gentle but searching questions that will draw me out of myself into worship of you and loving service to those around me. I ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
There are two endings in the Gospel of John. Last Sunday we had the first. The final verses of chapter 21 have a sense of firm conclusion. With the line, “All these signs have been given…” we feel that the mission to go out to the world and preach has begun. But we then go onto the story of Jesus’s apparition on the Lake of Tiberias. This is an odd, but obviously treasured story in the early Church. It would seem that it was added to the Gospel proper very early. It is in all the oldest manuscripts. There are a number of features that appear to be out of place in this Gospel, for example, much of the language is unique to the story and the numbering is wrong, this is actually the fourth Resurrection appearance in this Gospel. Yet there are other elements that tie the story closely to the Gospel as a whole: the way the disciples are described echoes the opening of the preaching ministry; the bread and fish recall the multiplication of the loaves; the charcoal fire recalls the charcoal fire by which Peter denied Jesus. There seems to be no certain reason why this final chapter was added to such a carefully constructed Gospel but I would like to make two suggestions regarding the dynamic of the chapter.
Firstly, the initial story of the miracle of the fish could have been added to encourage those who, after their conversion, felt somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of preaching the Gospel to the world. The story of the disciples reverting to their old way of life and being jolted out of it by a miracle of multiplication could have been an encouragement.
Secondly, this chapter goes to great length to clarify the role of Simon Peter. The story of his denial could have caused scandal in the early Church. This dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter clearly deals with the denials while showing how the experience of such failure can be grounds for service to the community.
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
So where are we to find the Resurrection in our lives? From the outside, our lives often do not seem to differ from those of people around us. We live in similar houses, do similar work, have similar problems. We could be forgiven for sometimes asking ourselves, ‘Just what type of difference does our faith make?’ When we look at the Resurrection appearances we see that a regular feature of them is that the people, to whom Jesus appears, do not realise at first who he is. He can be the gardener, the companion of the journey, the fellow on the shore offering advice – indeed the most ordinary of persons that one could meet. And indeed it is in the most ordinary of actions that Jesus reveals himself –a name uttered with love, a blessing over food, a piece of fishing advice given from the shore. But a whole new vista on life opens in these encounters with Jesus. Some deep yearning within the spirit is recognised and, in the word of Jesus, it is fulfilled. The heart then responds with a love that seeks to express itself in action. Mary returns to the disciples to announce her Risen Lord, the disciples return from Emmaus to proclaim him, Peter flings himself out of the boat to reach the one he had so recently denied.
But then what happens? Consider the incident with Peter. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Yes, Peter is given three chances to overturn the three denials. But there is more to this interchange than that. As Peter affirms his love, Jesus tells him to serve: to feed his lambs and sheep. Earlier Peter had thought following Jesus meant following a master to glory. But when the ‘cross’ came, Peter’s dreams were shattered. Now, Jesus makes sure he knows that loving him is inextricably linked with service. Peter may assert his love here on the shore but reality of his words will only been shown in service.
And that is where the Resurrection is to make a difference in our lives – in our service, and not just to family and friends but to neighbours and the wider community. By the nature and quality of our service we show what difference the Resurrection makes to our lives.
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
When we have been overwhelmed by events, we often revert to the routine and familiar. The disciples had been shattered by Jesus’ death and their own desertion of him. Twice he had appeared to them but, joyful as that was, what were they to make of it? So, in their confusion, they returned to their old routines, habits so deep they required no thought. Even though it was a long night with no fish caught, this wasn’t about fish. Then Jesus came to them…and in a way that brought back all that had happened from the beginning in Galilee! Jesus had done this miracle of multiplication before. Indeed earlier it had been a profound turning point in Peter’s life. It was the moment when he recognised his sinfulness in the face of this holy man. But now instead, of telling Jesus to depart from him because he was a sinful man, he flings himself into the water to get to Jesus as quickly as possible even though he had so recently discovered the true depths of his sinfulness. Later, after feeding his disciples, Jesus enters into the wounds of Peter’s denials making him face the reality of what he had done. But this time, as he gives him the opportunity to once again affirm his love, Jesus challenges him to service. And now Peter just may be able to do what his beloved Lord wants. He has been stripped bare of self-illusion with his denials and, in these searching questions, Jesus has made sure Peter not only knew how deeply his sin and delusion undermined the good in him but also Jesus gave him something far greater. He gave Peter the realisation that ‘love’ went even deeper that his sin – both Jesus’ love of him and his love of Jesus. On that sure ground, and that alone, could Peter serve the community.
Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.
This Sunday's Visual Meditation
- This is a 14th painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna Christ’s appearance on the Lake of Tiberias. (click red text)
- Tintoretto’s Christ at the Sea of Galilee. (click red text)
- This is James Tissot ‘s Christ appears on the shore (click red text) while in this painting shows Jesus’ encounter with Peter and the injunction Feed my lambs. (click red text)
- This is a stained glass window of Jesus commanding Peter to care for his sheep and lambs. (click red text)
- This is a modern icon that displays various elements of this Gospel. (click red text)
The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.
This Sunday's Mulling Meditation
As you go through this week, mull on the times that you choose to switch off to the demands that are made upon you. Notice when you do this and why. We all do need times to relax and recharge but sometimes we may be escaping issues we should be facing. Try to discern if you are doing this in your life.
In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.
This Sunday's Mirror Meditation
Rest in the love of your God.
Imagine Jesus asking you the question that he put to Peter, “Do you love me?” How would you feel? Comfortable giving the response, “Of course I love you?” Or would you hesitate? If so, why? Poor self-image? Actions that you are ashamed of? Doubts in your faith? Whatever your reasons, try to sit with them and mull over them with Jesus. Allow his to ask you again and again, “Do you love me?”
Rest in the love of your God.
Suggestions for the Programme
The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.
Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Invitation for share reflections
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
- At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
- Come to the Feast by Marty Haugen
- In Hopelessness and Near Despair by Jaroslav J. Vajda
- Take and Eat by Michael Joncas, see also version by M. Russel
“Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” _1Corithians 9:5
Charms still young, done with fishing
for today, he empties the pail of sardines,
which spill like silver shekels, small
bolts of lightning flooding from the money
changers sack when the Master
overturned the temple tables.
Peter stoops over our cracked basin
to wash his hands for supper; suddenly
tears in the water. The three denials,
like contaminated evidence, keep volunteering
at soup, in bed together. At dusk
he swore to die with him, blurting out
like some eager pubescent, a bumbling fire
yawing between quick boast
and quick bust, the rush of Jordan’s
rapids, the water gone before
it comes. A wife knows these hidden
histories – only crocodile eyes
peering just above the murky water.
Not so smart in Godly wisdom,
but in bed I hear my apostolic
lover stir, thrash the covers, turn
once more. I know he’s staring at the ceiling.
At dawn his pillow’s wet again.
From Yahweh’s Other Shoe
by Kilian McDonnell
Published by St John’s University Press, 2006.
Used with kind permission.
Copyright: The Order of St Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.