Third Sunday of Easter: "New Outcome"
Before I got married, I tried to make money because I have heard stories from my friends about how close to impossible it was for a guy to finance his wedding. I was told that it was expensive so I tried to save up, tried to make money, I researched, I made appointments, and even tried to go through an egg-selling business. All of these efforts were to no avail. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but one thing that I was sure of is God saying, “My kingdom is your business. You put all your efforts and your time into My kingdom on a full time basis.”
For 23 years, God has blessed my family and He has been faithful. We don’t need anxiety. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You don’t need to be anxious.” God’s got our back. God provides not just for the needs that the Gentiles pursue, but for all our needs – way beyond what we can ask or imagine. He doesn’t just meet our needs; He fulfills us and gives us eternal life.
In the gospel today, Peter and his companions fished all night, but caught nothing. They were frustrated and anxious as they were professional fishermen and they knew what they were doing. In the morning, Jesus called out from the beach and shouted, “Cast your net on the right side and you will find a catch.” They obeyed, got a full catch that was so heavy that they can’t haul them up. This makes us realize one thing: obedience always gets us in the right place. If we hear the voice of God, and we obey it, it will always take us to the right and safe place.
For Peter, it was déjà vu. Three years ago before this incident, Jesus was preaching from Peter’s boat, and Peter, who was trying to catch fish all night and caught nothing, was instructed by Jesus to cast the net on the other side, and a miracle took place. The first time it happened, Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me from I am a sinful man.” As the Pharisees taught, Peter thought that God had nothing to do with sinners, and he thought that he might be destroyed in Jesus’ presence. In today’s gospel, Peter knew better. This time he couldn’t wait until he gets close to Jesus. He knew that Jesus taught and lived out what He said of forgiving 70 times 7, and not to condemn but restore.
When the disciples got out on the land, Peter saw hot coals of fire with fish and bread being cooked. It was déjà vu again. Remember the time when the high priests were in the courtyard on Maundy Thursday and Peter was warming himself over coals of fire? Maybe this reminded Peter of how he denied Jesus three times. I am thinking that Jesus may have been doing a spiritual surgery on Peter because He was restoring Peter. The scene of the crime was being recreated for Peter and it reminded him. Peter was uneasy and Jesus asked him questions. When Jesus asked Peter about his love for Him, Jesus was referring to the “agapao” or agape love meaning. He asked Peter once, “Do you love Me more than these others?” Peter responded with a “phileo” kind of love, which is a love of a friend. “You know that I am Your friend.” Jesus asked him again, “Peter, do you love Me with an unfailing love?” Peter answered, “You know that I am Your friend.” Peter couldn’t answer that he loved Jesus with an everlasting love and an unfailing love because he just failed Jesus. He denied Jesus three times, so he could not say with conviction that he loved Jesus with an unfailing love.
The third time Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love Me as a friend?” Peter said, “You know all things, Lord. You know that I love you and I am Your friend.” This was enough for Jesus to forgive and to restore him. This love changed because this love was proven even at the death of Peter who was martyred for Jesus and indeed, he loved Him with an unfailing love, even to death. Jesus reversed the three-time denial of Peter by making him confess that he loved Him three times, then, Jesus restored Peter. He renewed His original call to him to follow Him.
Our calling remains the same even if we fail or even if we deny Jesus. Our calling remains even if we work and work and we catch nothing. The truth is nothing can change His love for us; nothing can change His call to us. The gifts and calling of God for us is irrevocable.
Same thing was experienced by St. Paul. In Philippians 3, he said that his credentials were nothing compared to the knowledge of Jesus. He was circumcised on the 8th day, he was a Hebrew, blameless as to the Law, and he was so zealous in serving God that he even persecuted the Church and murdered some of Jesus’ followers thinking that he was serving God in doing so. After that long night for him, when Paul heard Jesus’ voice in the morning on the Damascus road, he said that his zeal before amounted to nothing. It was all rubbish and worthless because Jesus wasn’t there.
Have you ever felt that sometimes it is night time? That despite our best efforts and best intentions, we produce nothing? You are frustrated, anxious, and it seems like it is the end of the world! There is no fruit, just zilch! Like Paul, maybe we think that we are not producing anything, but we need to get on our Damascus road or hear the voice of Jesus in the morning giving us directions and instructions saying to us, “You have been doing it wrong. Cast your net on the right side.”
We need to make sure that we incline our ear to Jesus’ voice. Maybe, we are doing things apart from Him, so we are producing nothing. Realize that though the sorrow may last for the night, though the emptiness may last for the night, Jesus’ shouts of joy comes in the morning. We may be facing what looks like or what feels like night. On top of this, we may have beasts in the night prowling about, getting their prey, while we work and work, trying to be righteous and upright and producing nothing. Predators prowl about and get their prey.
In Psalm 73 or 37, the psalmist says, “Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the righteous work hard honestly, righteously, and yet, the wicked prosper and they do not?” Sometimes we want to say, “Surely in vain, I have kept my heart pure until we are reminded, until we get to the sanctuary of God, until we hear His voice in the morning and hear Him say, ‘This is what you do. This is where you go. I will be with you.’”
Apart from God, we are nothing. We can do nothing. We just continue. Though the fig tree doesn’t blossom, though there is no sheep in the stall, we still praise God because soon, morning will break. Soon, we will hear His voice. His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime. We have misunderstood God. We have heard wrong teachings about God being angry for a lifetime, and being favorable once in while or for a moment. Our God is like Jesus who went to sinners, who dined with them, when the religious would not have anything to do with them. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We can trade our sorrows, our pain for the joy of the Lord! This is the truth and promise of God. Night will pass and God will call out to us, and He will turn our mourning into dancing.
Morning is coming! Fact of the matter is that it has started. Morning is breaking for the Cathedral of the King. Open our eyes! Ask the Holy Spirit, “Spirit Divine, open my eyes, illumine me that I may see and that I may hear and I may taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” We can run confidently to Him, not with guilt or condemnation but with confidence because our Father loves us! God is love and He has promised it will be happen because His Word doesn’t return to Him empty. More and more, I just realized that this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God!