It is impossible to meet Jesus and remain the same

Homily for Friday of the Easter Octave

by Fr. Tommy Lane

It is impossible to truly meet Jesus and remain the same. Meeting Jesus changes us. Two days ago we reflected on the two disciples on the road to Emmaus being changed through meeting Jesus. In today’s Gospel (John 21:1-14) we see Peter growing into his new role in his Petrine ministry through his encounter with the risen Jesus. When the Beloved Disciple told Peter it was the Lord on the shore Peter jumped into the lake and we presume Peter preceded the boat to land and secured it when it landed. By the time this Gospel was written a boat was already being used as an image of the Church. When Jesus asked to bring some of the fish it was Peter who went back into the water a second time to bring the fish. He dragged the net to the shore full of the fish, one hundred and fifty three large fish and the net was not torn. St. Jerome tells us that Greek zoologists say there were one hundred and fifty three species of fish in the world so Peter dragging this net to shore full of one hundred and fifty three fish surely bespeaks Peter’s ministry serving the entire Church. Even though zoologists now know many more species of fish the message of the Gospel about Peter’s ministry for the Church is clear. Peter was called by the Lord to drag the net full of fish to the shore, to preside over and serve the Church. Meeting Jesus changes Peter and he begins his Petrine ministry. Peter’s denials of Jesus during the Passion are healed and forgiven and explicitly so during this same encounter with Jesus just after breakfast on the shore when Jesus three times asks Peter if he loves him and commands him to look after the flock.

In the first reading in Acts today (Acts 4:1-12) we see just how much Peter has changed as a result of his encounters with the risen Jesus. In the Gospel when Jesus was being tried before the Sanhedrin Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Now in Acts when Peter is before the Sanhedrin Peter preaches to the Sanhedrin. What a change, from denying Jesus to preaching about Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Speaking of Jesus to the Sanhedrin Peter says, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Peter is dragging the net full of fish to the shore. He is doing so because he has met the risen Jesus many times and as a result he has changed. It is impossible to truly meet Jesus and remain the same. There have been times when we like Peter failed the Lord.  But we too have met Jesus and are in the process of growing into whom we are called to be by the Lord. Like Peter we too profess there is salvation in no other name under heaven except the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.