Friday in the Octave of Easter
Jesus reveals Himself again to His closest friends; He has some unfinished business. According to John’s Gospel, Peter did not see Jesus at the tomb but rather saw only that it was empty. Yet it was the other disciple that was with him who “saw and believed”; not Peter. Not until Jesus appeared in the Upper Room did Peter see Him, and though we assume they all then believed, we can imagine that Peter also was coming face-to-face with the memory of His last encounter with Jesus: the Garden of Gethsemane. There in the garden Peter had drawn a sword and attacked a slave named Malchus, earning him a strong rebuke from Jesus. Later, after Jesus’ arrest, he would deny Jesus three times, his prior courage having left him.
Suddenly there was Jesus, granting His peace even to Peter, granting too the power to forgive sins. A week later when Thomas is with them, they are still shut up in their hiding place; what were they waiting for? Our tradition tells us that Peter was their leader, as seems clear in the Acts of the Apostles. If this was true, then perhaps they were waiting for him to chart a course. Inexplicably, he decides to go fishing.
After a fruitless night of fishing, it must have grated on Peter’s sensibilities to have some stranger on the shore asking if anything had been caught. Even more grating must have been the stranger’s advice, as though a lifelong fisherman like Peter did not know what he was doing. But something about the incredible catch awakened the heart of at least the unnamed Beloved Disciple, who then announced, “It is the Lord.” Peter’s heart, too, was awakened enough that these words brought him to life, driving him into the water. We know well the encounter he will have with Jesus and the three-fold forgiveness he receives; the apostle’s sense of guilt and failure has been washed away.
Something about fishing opened Peter’s heart to Christ’s presence in his life, just as dining with Jesus in Emmaus awakened the hearts of Cleopas and his friend. Seeing His wounds awoke Thomas, while hearing Him call her name awakened Mary. We, too, have things in our own lives that awaken memory, that open the eyes of our hearts to seeing those we love. What are those things that awaken our hearts to Christ? What is the love language He speaks when He wishes to address our hearts directly, that we might see and believe? Today let us take a moment and ponder this, opening our hearts to listen to Him.