Friday, 21 April 2017

Easter Friday

Readings: Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 117; John 21:1-14

The final chapter of John's gospel has been described as a kind of reprise, resumé, or recapitulation of much of the gospels: the call of the disciples, feedings, the eucharist, walking on water, the charcoal fire, a miraculous catch, nets, fishing for men, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, two others (as there are often 'other disciples also').

At the same time it is all now told 'from the other side'. It is post-paschal and a bit surreal (the human beings are in the sea and the fish are on the shore). It happens 'as day was breaking', between the time of darkness and the dawning of day. It happens between water and land. We might be reminded too of the sign of Jonah, men being vomited up out of the sea. And of Christ as fish and bread.

The disciples are led to see that Jesus is alive and is present among them. Love leads the way and the beloved disciple is first to speak. Not for the first time John's gospel teaches us that love will be first to realise things - the beloved disciple reached the tomb first, Mary Magdalen was the first to encounter the Risen Lord, now again love leads the way.

Peter acts strangely. There are good reasons for this. The charcoal fire at which someone is preparing breakfast reminds him of the last time he stood at a charcoal fire and denied Jesus. Famously his threefold denial then is undone by a threefold affirmation of his love for Jesus now. He is still a leader in the group, picked out for special attention, overseeing somehow the work of the Church's fishing.

And the Eucharist is the supreme way in which disciples know they are in the presence of the Risen Lord, recognising him in the breaking of bread, allowing themselves to be fed by him, giving in loving service of others as he has given himself completely in loving service of us.

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