Homily for April 29, Friday of the Octave of Easter
The Lord’s death and resurrection put an end to His ordinary public ministry. His new, transformed existence is only directly revealed to a select number of His apostles and disciples. However, He continues to give them important lessons that are intended for every Christian, both by means of His words and by the way He makes Himself known to them.
The first few appearances we heard about over the past few days, occurred when the apostles and friends of Jesus were either looking for His body or gathered together in hiding from His enemies, full of doubt and fear. This time, He appears in a totally different context. Some of His apostles are together engaged in an ordinary, every-day activity, which was their former profession: fishing. Their work is unfruitful until Christ comes to be with them, albeit in a way that they don’t immediately recognize. Once He is present and they heed His word, they make a great catch. Afterwards, Jesus sits them down to serve them, and adds His own fish and bread to what they bring.
On one level, this is a moving account of how Jesus wants time to fellowship with His apostles before He ascends into heaven. We can also interpret this on a more theological level. Jesus had said that, from now on, Peter would be a “fisher of men”, an apostle who would bring souls into the boat of the Church to be saved. Today’s fishing episode can be seen as an image of how we can be successful evangelizers only if we work guided by Christ’s word and if we recognize His presence in the people around us. As St Peter says in the first reading today, the credit for any service we give the Church and the community belongs principally to Christ working through us. He is the Cornerstone, and salvation can only come through Him.
Lastly, we can also see this passage as a reminder that Jesus is present to us always – not just when we are at Church or at prayer, but also when we are doing the daily duties of our profession, or enjoying our hobbies. Whatever we do, we will do it better if we look to Christ for guidance and strength. May God grant us the faith necessary to know that He accompanies us constantly, the trust needed to follow His guidance, and the wisdom to recognize all the good that He is able to work through us.