The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
May 1st, 2022 – Third Sunday of Easter - John 21:1-19
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
Today’s gospel is loaded! A full meal of possible messages. There is the appearance of the Risen Christ (although not initially recognized.). Then there’s the frustrated fishermen (Peter and his crew) who can’t seem to land a single fish after a whole day of fishing. Then being told by Jesus (who may have never fished in his whole life) that they were fishing on the wrong side of the boat. Try the other side, he tells them, and see what happens. In no time they hauled in 153 fish. (More about that below.)
Then Jesus prepared some of those fish for breakfast along with bread (although there is no mention of how he got that part of the meal.) And finally, after grilling the food, Jesus “grills” Peter about his connection with Jesus, the same Peter who denied he even knew Jesus a few days before. And in the end, Peter and his buddies were told to tend to the needs of sheep and lambs (the rest of humankind) even though they were through experience and trade, men of the sea, not the land. As I said, lots to chew on in today’s gospel.
But let’s think about just one part of the narrative. Those 153 fish! Why such a specific number? Does it have any special meaning? After all, we humans are very number conscious. For instance, is 153 a special symbolic number? Is it a number that is the result of some symbolic multiplication or division? Thus, a number that might have deep mysterious significance. I tried a few calculations, and I could not draw any meaning of 153 other than apparently it was the exact number of fish caught that day.
So, I created a saying based on this gospel: Count everything and everything counts!
The extent of God’s creation, the place where we exist in this specific era of time, can be counted. There are exactly a certain number of galaxies, stars, planets and living things (including you and me) who exist now or have existed in their own time and space. Only God is infinite while all the rest is finite -- or countable.
And everything and everyone in this miraculous creation is loved by God and brought into existence. Certainly St. Francis of Assisi thought so. Some, like us, are gifted with life. And each existing part of creation is important! And the life given to us is not just for now, but forever. Of course, right now we know very little about all that, but, hopefully, on a specific day ahead, we will. We will be “numbered” among God’s beloved. And our number will exceed more than 153.
©David M. Thomas, PhD