Archbishop’s Teaching

4th Sunday after The Resurrection (John 21 : 1-14)

Homily of His Excellency Msgr. Selim Sfeir Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples on Resurrection Day and the following Sunday. Everyone was convinced of his resurrection, even Thomas, who doubted, touched and testified. But Jesus disappeared from them in his physical form, and now they are far from the empty tomb in Jerusalem, they are in Galilee. What to do now?

While they were in the Garden of Olives, before his arrest, Jesus said to his disciples, "After I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee." (Matthew 26:32 and Mark 14:28) Then, at dawn on the day of Resurrection, the angel announces Jesus' resurrection to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and orders them to tell his disciples that he is going before them to Galilee. (Matthew 28:7 and Mark 16:7) As they were going to tell the disciples, Jesus met them and said, "Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee: there they will see me." (Matthew 28:10) Indeed, the disciples went to Galilee to see Jesus. (Matthew 28:16) It is important to note here that Galilee is a region where live many pagans who do not know God.

The disciples waited for Jesus in Galilee, perhaps becoming impatient after this long wait, as their material responsibilities accumulate, they return to the fishing they had abandoned by following him. "Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing. They said to him, 'We will go with you too. So they went out and got into a boat, and that night they caught nothing." They went back to their daily routine, the light of the resurrection behind them, as if nothing had happened. But this proved to be in vain.

This is where the Lord intervenes by manifesting himself to them, and I don't know if he came with the morning light, or if the morning light came when he appeared to them?

He came to remind them that they can no longer live as they did before the resurrection! He asked them if they had caught any fish in their nets, and the answer was negative, then he commanded them:
"Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find. So they cast it, and they could no longer pull it out, because of the great quantity of fish." Here John remembers the wonderful miraculous catch on the same lake, and his heart cries out as he sees the scene repeated before him again, he says to Peter, "It is the Lord!" And perhaps Peter also remembers that Jesus, at that time, had given them instructions like the ones he gives them today to cast the net, and Peter's response was once, " Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking." (Luke 5:5-6) What a way to revive the memory of faith.

Jesus came to remind them that on the same shore of the lake, he had called them, saying, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17) That is, they were to bear witness to him and draw their nets full of men for the Kingdom.

We have now passed Easter three weeks ago, and perhaps, like the disciples, we are wondering: what to do now? Let's go back to our old activities!

Yes, we are back to our daily responsibilities, but let's not forget that we are not just "fishing" for our own lives, Jesus has called us to go out into "Galilee", into the land of those who do not yet know him, making us "fishers of men". Let us gather for the Risen One in our nets of witness a "catch". Let us draw men from the waters of the lake of life, so that they may be children of the Kingdom!

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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