Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter Year C. 05-05-2019.
First Reading: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41
Psalm: Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
Second Reading: Revelation 5:11-14
Gospel: John 21:1-19
Since Easter, we have heard in our gospel readings from the evangelist John, that Christ always makes His appearances to His disciples every eight days, which is why they later came to refer to it as Dies Domini the Day of the Lord.
During Christ’s first appearance on Easter day, Thomas was not present, and then eight days later when Thomas was present He appeared once again to His disciples. By this consistency the evangelist is drawing home the point that whenever Christians meet on the day of the Lord, which is Sunday, to celebrate the Eucharist, the Risen Lord is always in their midst. How many of us are not just aware but convinced of this fact that Christ is always present with us at every Eucharistic assembly? We cannot be convinced of this fact unless we pledge ourselves in faith and love to be witnesses of the Risen Lord as Peter and the other apostles have done in our first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles. To be a true witness of the Lord, is not just to believe or have faith in the Lord, but is also to love the Lord truly and have the courage to obey Him at all times even against all odds. This is what prompted Peter and the other apostles today to tell the Sanhedrin ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men.’ But is this the case with us today?
For many of us today, obedience to man and to the world which are all the works of God’s hands comes before obedience to God. We are more afraid of the creatures than the creator. Because of this, maybe we don’t say the words, but our silence often speaks loudly when we refuse to stand up for our faith, for our morals, for our Church, for the truth, for our Lord, and we allow godlessness, injustice, immorality, falsehood and evil to thrive in the same society we live in. As Christians and Catholics, if we truly love the Lord and have faith in Him, we must always stand up for what we believe and hold to be true; our faith, our morals, the Church, even if the whole world tells us that we are wrong. This is what the world is always wont to do, but we must never be cowed down by fear of being unpopular in the eyes of the world, because one with God is majority. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we must face difficulties in remaining faithful to the Master. So when we stand for the Lord like Peter and the other apostles, and appear like losers before the world, in the eyes of God we are actually winners who are winning big. And as it was for the apostles, so is it going to be for us even today and ever shall it be, but with faithfulness, firmness and consistent perseverance, we Christians will be able to overcome the hurdles of evil in the world.
It was to strengthen the faith of the disciples that Christ once again appeared to them today for the third time, but this time not on the Day of the Lord but on a weekday while they are at work, fishing. Peter their head told them, ‘I am going fishing,’ and they all joined him, numbering seven of them in the boat. This number which is the symbol of perfection and completeness represents the entire Disciples of Christ in the world. Once again it re-echoes their initial call at the start of Christ’s public ministry when He called them to be fishers of men. They tried to catch fish all night but caught nothing until day break when the Lord appears to them, and finding they have no fish, said to them ‘cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ When they listened to Him and obeyed Him, they caught even more than they could ever imagine. Once again we see as Peter said that ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men.’ We must be prepared to obey the Lord rather than men or the world.
Let us ask ourselves today, whom do we chose to obey? Do we obey the Lord or do we obey men, the creatures of His hands? To obey the Lord is not always easy, but it is the only fruitful obedience. Some of us out of convenience or fear, choose to obey those in authority who give us money or privileges, even when they are wrong. Are you one of those? Do you chose to obey wealth, positions, idols, people or yourself? It means that we will catch nothing at the end just like Peter and the disciples caught nothing toiling all night. But whenever we choose to obey the Lord, we will definitely make a huge catch. This is what often happens to us too, that whenever we abandon the path the Lord has chosen for us, we will always labour in vain. However, whenever we place ourselves in loving trust and obedience to the Lord, we cannot labour in vain. And our work as fishers of men cannot be fruitful unless we exercise it in loving obedience to the will of the Lord. Peter’s guilt for forsaking the Lord during the passion when he denied Him three times, made him feel unworthy of coming close to the Lord and even led him to jump into the sea. However, the Lord did not condemn Him but instead gave him an opportunity for restoration when He asked him three times, ‘Do you love me?’ and said to him ‘feed my sheep.’ In this way He forgave Peter and cancelled the three times that he had denied Him and made him the Shepherd of His flock. That is why this gospel passage is often read at the installation of Popes. This is how the Lord readily forgives us too, and wants us to come back to Him and He is ever ready to make use of us so long as we are ready to keep catching fish for Him. And as Peter and the others hauled in 150 fish to the shore, God is always waiting and expecting us too to bring fish with us when we shall meet Him at the final shore of our lives which is heaven. How many souls are we going to save and bring to the Lord on the last day? The way to do this successfully is to learn the ways of the Lord and to imitate them in our lives. And the only thing that will take us there is to love Him with the same depth of love with which He loves us as He shows to Peter today. This will make us to obey Him at all times and in all circumstances. Let us pray that the Lord may give us the faith and courage to love Him wholeheartedly and obey Him at all times so that we will be successful fishers of men to the end. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.