After Jesus died, the disciples obviously went back to their professions since they had to make a living. Rumors were that Jesus had come back from the dead. To their surprise, right smack in the middle of their unsuccessful fishing trip—Jesus appeared and helped them catch an overwhelming number of fish.
At first the disciples did not recognize the Lord but then their eyes were opened. Must have been an intense moment when they realized who was standing before them. Naturally, they all had something to hide. However, Jesus did not speak to them individually, only to Peter. We can picture the scene: early in the morning, right after eating the fish they had caught. Peter was sticky, tired, head bowed not wishing to make eye contact with Jesus. The Lord took Peter aside from the others to speak with him. To hear his confession—not the way we think of confession, but with the same effect—forgiveness. That’s what Peter needed—forgiveness. The same happens in our life when we have messed up—Jesus comes to us—reaches out to us in order to offer healing. We have heard ourselves say, “Here I am in Confession—I’ve come to ask forgiveness.” Who’s idea? Who is the One who called us? Jesus always takes the initiative. The Lord puts the grace into our heart to move us to the Sacrament. Some folks have even admitted, “I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Sounds right. They were smart enough to give up control and hand themselves over to Divine Providence. When we dare to surrender, only goodness can result. But like Peter we probably avoid having to face ourselves. We don’t want to look at the dark-side of our soul. St. Peter did not want to remember his weakest moment when he denied Christ three times. Jesus had predicted his denial. In the safe environment—surrounded by the others—eating and drinking together—Peter had not thought ahead. He had considered himself strong—preferred death rather than to betray Jesus.
We always get into trouble when we are over confident. Regardless of involvement in church activities, keeping our nose clean, trying to mind our own business—temptation comes. If we rely only on our strength, we will fall. Peter had to learn the hard way. Perhaps the majority of us also learn the hard way. When we have fallen, we are able to appreciate God’s forgiveness even more.
Mercy is why we are here. Obviously Jesus did not choose the wisest, smartest, best-looking disciples. They weren’t a bunch of losers either. The disciples were ordinary folks, just like us—with their share of problems but also their share of talents. Jesus knew of what Peter was capable. He knew that Peter was a leader who could feed His lambs. Like Peter the Lord commissions us to do the same—to build His Church. All of us have the capacity—the gifts necessary to speak about the Gospel—to teach—to guide by our example. Some folks are starving for a good word, waiting for an invitation, looking for a challenge. Text message, Facebook, email—just takes a little reaching out. Many lambs are running around loose with no one to guide them. They’ve lost the connection—perhaps they are afraid. If they have fallen, Church is the last place they think about because they are afraid of being judged. We should all know better. The Church belongs to Jesus; we are just His instruments. If Jesus welcomed Peter back after all his mistakes, how much more will He welcome those who ask forgiveness? Will He ever shut the door on us? No way—that would be contradictory to His promises. Jesus is waiting to feed us—not with fish or bread but with His Body and Blood—food for everlasting life.
We are the advertisement. Others need to see the difference that Christ has made in our life. We are people of the Resurrection because we have been forgiven—all our hope is in Jesus Christ.