Peter’s New Season — 3rd Sunday of Easter

Once, when Jesus was preaching as he stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a large and eager crowd was pressing in on Him.  So Jesus got into a fisherman’s boat and asked him to put out aways so that He could sit and teach the crowds. The tired fisherman complied. And after Jesus had finished speaking, He said to this fisherman, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” The fisherman said, “We have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught an incredible number of fish such that their nets were tearing. And Jesus said to the startled man, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.” As you probably remember, the fisherman was Simon Peter, and from that day on his life entered a new season. For the next few years Simon Peter would follow Jesus and evangelize towns on His behalf.

In today’s gospel, from the days after the resurrection, Peter is fishing again. And once again, Jesus is there on the shore. They have caught nothing, but Jesus says to try once more, and they catch an incredible number of fish. When Simon Peter realizes it is Jesus he eagerly comes to Him as fast as he can. He finds Jesus beside a charcoal fire. This should be familiar to Peter, too, calling to mind  another charcoal fire in the dark courtyard of the high priest.

After sharing a meal, Jesus says, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? Do you love me?  Do you love me?” Simon Peter says, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus has given Peter the opportunity to undo his triple denial of Jesus with a triple confession of his love. And after each time, Jesus speaks of a new season for Peter’s life: “Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.”

Now it is one thing to catch fish, but it is another thing to shepherd a flock. Up to now, Peter has been following Jesus and bringing others to Him. But now Jesus is asking Peter to do something new, to shepherd His flock for Him. Do you think Peter nervous? Is he concerned about whether he is up to the task? Is he worried about being led where he doesn’t want to go? I bet he is, but Jesus would have him ‘not be afraid,’ for he won’t be doing it alone. Jesus says to Peter, “Follow me.”

Our lives are often entering new seasons. Maybe you’re moving into a new town or a new school. Maybe you’re transitioning from engagement to marriage, welcoming new children, or living for the first time without children in the house. Maybe you have a new job, or don’t have a job for the first time. But whatever season of our life Jesus calls us into, His calling and our mission remain the same. Jesus said, ‘”I give you a new commandment; love one another as I have loved you,” and ” “There is no greater love than this, than to lay down your life for a friend.” Every new season of life offers us the unique opportunity to deepen our love for Christ and each other more than ever before.

Maybe you feel nervous? Maybe you’re concerned about whether you are up to the task? Maybe you’re worried about being led where you don’t want to go? But remember Simon Peter and don’t be afraid.  Jesus gives lots of second chances and He does not expect us to do it alone.

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2 Responses to “Peter’s New Season — 3rd Sunday of Easter”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    I was just *wondering* why John specified that it was a *charcoal* fire! This makes perfect sense. Thank you :).

    I also note that the meal of bread and fish is a symbol of the Eucharist, fortifying Peter for his new task. This symbolism (found very commonly in the catacombs) follows from John 6 (the multiplication of the loaves and fishes), and from the fact that the Greek word for fish, “icthus”, is an acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior”.

  2. carol Says:

    Another way to look at the feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep would be to consider it to be the ministering, teaching and guiding of children, then new or baby Christians, and finally to those Christians stronger in the faith and with more authority, like bishops and priests today. The feed my sheep would be what Christ wanted Peter to do, just as our Holy Father, the Pope does today. Keep the heirarchy of the Church in line, keeping in mind Christ promiced to be with him to help with this and to assure it was done right.
    P.S. I wish I could be in your scripture class, Father, bu I am too old.

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