25th April. Easter Friday
First Reading: Acts 4:1-12
(Peter’s belief in Jesus: “There is no other name by which we can be saved!”)
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
Gospel: John 21:1-14
(Meeting the risen Christ beside the lake in Galilee; the miraculous catch of fish.)
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Building upon the grace of God
The apostles went back to where they started, to Galilee, where they continued their work as fishermen. But their lives had been transformed by their contact with Jesus, and when they met him by the lakeshore, they recognised him, hauled in the net at his advice, and heard his guidance for their future, building on the past. Many traits of a person’s earlier life contribute now to his or her apostolate. These apostles must now go out as fishers of men. Peter’s special trait as an impulsive, generous leader, is now taken up by Jesus, to make him shepherd of the whole church. He may have denied our Lord in the panic of the Passion, but his heart is loyal, and his personal experience of weakness makes him all the more suited to lead a church of sinners, on the way towards sainthood. Aspects of our own past too which we may tend to dismiss as trivial, can be turned by God into pillars of our future career.
In the same way, just as the disciples returned to their native place (Galilee) and to their old trade (fishing), we ourselves should not forget our own ancestry and heritage. We need not be ashamed of our past, nor feel crippled by any part of it. If we discover the grace of God in our own lives, we can pass on the reassuring message to others, that “the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” And as St. Paul puts it “for those who love God, all things work together unto good!” (Rom 8:28)