‘They knew it was the Lord…’
[This is the tenth of the 11 Resurrectional Gospel readings of Matins]
Thunder from a mountaintop echoes in the hills and valleys below. So too does the seismic shock of Christ’s appearance by the Sea of Tiberius reverberate in our minds as we recall the events of Christ’s ministry.
Simon Peter and his companions have returned to Galilee to their former occupation as fishermen. Had they given up in despair after the Crucifixion? They catch nothing — until a seeming stranger commands them to cast their nets once more, resulting in an enormous catch.
The end echoes the beginning. Luke (Chapter 5) tells us that the Christian mission started at the same place, with an unexpected and enormous catch, a recognition of Jesus as Lord, and the calling as ‘fishers of men.’
Peter and John figure prominently in this last chapter of the Gospel. Peter is the man of action, the impetuous one (this is the second time he jumps into the lake!), while John, the beloved disciple, the first to discern the truth, is the introspective thinker, the ‘theologian.’ Yet they have equal roles to play. So does Nathaniel. We haven’t heard much from him, but he was the one who Jesus said was ‘truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’ (John 1:47). A true icon of quiet contemplation.
The seven gather around Jesus’ warming fire at His gracious invitation. Their offering is the fish they have gathered — that’s you and I. No one spoke, or even dared to speak, ‘for they knew it was the Lord.’ Perhaps His name was whispered in the echoes of that fireside meal which recalled the Last Supper, or before that, the feeding of the five thousand, or even before that, the manna that fed Moses and the Israelites in the desert of Sinai.
The seismic events in our lives are not always pleasant ones. But even when we are rocked with the challenges of illness or financial stress, strife at home or at work, personal despair, or the instability of the world and its wars, hungers and plagues — no matter how tempest tossed we are, we can always hear the echoes of the Risen Lord, as He calls us from the far shore and speaks to us in the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread.