1. Changing Fortunes: Seven disciples of Jesus spent a night fishing and came up empty; not one fish found its way into their nets. All of their emotions surrounding failure and futility would have been swirling in those early morning hours. We have no reason to believe that their failure was anything more than bad luck, but they were likely beating themselves up for wasting an entire night with nothing to show for their efforts. Each of us knows the feeling of failure, and each of us deals with it in our own way, perhaps placing blame, perhaps putting on an air of false humility, perhaps just gritting our teeth and persevering. These fishermen’s fortunes would soon change. Their glorified Lord, veiled as a stranger and addressing these men as “children,” suggested that they try one more time, hinting that perseverance, out of trusting obedience, would be the optimal path. Who alone warrants this trusting obedience? We receive our answer in today’s first reading from Acts 5, when the Apostles proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than man.”
  2. The Weight: Peter, who had denied Jesus three times during his Passion, still had a heavy heart from his actions on that fateful eve of Good Friday. His sins weighed him down. The huge catch in their net that morning would have reminded him of that weight on his conscience. He may have thought something like, “Just as I can’t haul in this catchall alone, I cannot bear the weight of this guilt all alone.” Thankfully, he had his friends to help him pull the massive catch ashore. His very best friend, though, the one who had laid down his life for him (and for each of us), would help him bear the weight that was on his conscience. In fact, he had already taken on the weight of mankind’s sins by dying on the cross. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 605) reminds us, “The Church, following the Apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: ‘There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.’”
  3. Recognition: For some time, the weary fishermen didn’t realize that it was their Lord on the shore. He was present under the appearance of “any man,” coaxing some flames up out of a charcoal fire. Eventually, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” recognized this man as the risen Lord, perhaps due to his loving gaze or hopeful words. In an act of faith, Peter followed suit. The poignant scene from two millennia ago should evoke a response from us today, the Lord’s Day. We will shuffle up an aisle towards the end of Mass and bow towards a priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister holding something–nay, someone–under the appearance of bread. Do we feel the love emanating from the consecrated host, acknowledging the mystery that this is not bread but our glorified Lord? Do we make a conscious, sincere, and grateful act of faith, saying “Amen” when we hear “The Body of Christ”? When we are sent out after Mass, how do we convey this divine love out in the world?

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I thank you today for reminding me that you are waiting for me to come to you in sorrow for my sins, not to berate me but to offer your divine mercy. You do not wish for me to be weighed down; instead, you desire me to be filled with joy and spread your Good News to others. Grant me the grace to help you “feed your sheep.”

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will perform a good examination of conscience, particularly reflecting on which area of Church teaching is proving difficult for me to obey, and ask your help to do better in this area.