Think of a time when you were in the presence of a well-known public figure. Perhaps it was a pope, a bishop, a celebrated author, television or movie actor, or a local celebrity.
We live in a celebrity culture where people behave differently in the presence of familiar public figures. People want to be close to them, shake hands with them or speak to them.
They want to feel like they have a personal connection with someone famous. They might rush to get a front seat or look for a photo opportunity in the hopes of capturing and sharing the treasured moment.
In today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus reveals himself to his disciples for the third time. Jesus had lived with his disciples for some time. He walked and talked with them, shared meals, healed the sick and performed astonishing miracles.
To the disciples and the crowds that followed him, Jesus spoke with authority about his divine origin, identity and mission. Everything that Jesus said and did during his earthly life revealed the promised coming of God’s kingdom.
So his betrayal, unjust condemnation, passion and death on the cross was a turning point in the disciples’ experience. They lost their Lord to a humiliating, cruel death.
And the risen Jesus’ appearance to his disciples must have further turned their already upside-down world. I’d like to think there are some lessons the disciples learned from their astonishing encounter with Jesus.
The risen Lord approaches the disciples as they go about the ordinary routine of their daily work as fishermen. St. John notes that when it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore. The disciples had worked all night, with nothing to show. They were exhausted in body and dejected in spirit.
Precisely at this low point, Jesus desires to draw close to them. And so it is for us today. As we bear the burdens and challenges of our day, whether at home, at work or in relationships, the daily toil and hardships of life is where Jesus reveals himself to us.
Jesus invites the disciples to make an act of faith. After fishing all night and catching nothing, Jesus tells them to cast their nets again. And then their nets were filled to the point that they were unable to pull them in.
The disciples learn that the same divine power by which God raised his only Son from the dead is the divine power that will turn their fear into trust.
They know this is no ordinary encounter when the Lord breaks and blesses bread. Then Jesus invites Peter to care for his flock in imitation of him. Their eucharistic amazement will strengthen the disciples to feed others with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and is now the pattern of new divine life in us so we can pray, “speak to me, Lord.”