Easter: April 18th
Third Sunday of Easter
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Old Calendar: Second Sunday after Easter
"When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus." For the third time Jesus appears to His disciples and on the lake of Genesareth renews the miraculous draught of fishes. The Fathers did not fail to see in the one hundred and fifty-three great fishes that Peter brought to land the neophytes born to supernatural life in the waters of baptism and brought by Peter to the feet of the risen Christ.
The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, 5:27-32, 40b-41. The Apostles' failure to obey the Sanhedrin is obviously not due to pride or to their not knowing their place; the Sanhedrin is imposing a ruling which would have them go against God's law and their own conscience.
The Apostles humbly and boldly remind their judges that obedience to God comes first. They know that many members of the Sanhedrin are religious men, good Jews who can understand their message; they try not so much to justify themselves as to get the Sanhedrin to react: they are more concerned about their judges' spiritual health than about their own safety. St. John Chrysostom comments: "God allowed the Apostles to be brought to trial so that their adversaries might be instructed, if they so desired...The Apostles are not irritated by the judges; they plead with them compassionately, with tears in their eyes, and their only aim is to free them from error and from divine wrath(Hom. on Acts,
— The Navarre Bible - Acts of the Apostles
The second reading is from the Book of Revelation, 5:11-14. The host of angels around the throne act as a kind of guard of honor proclaiming the sublime perfection of Christ the Lamb; they list seven attributes which all point to the fact that he has everything that belongs to the Godhead.
After the song of the spiritual, invisible, creation, there follows the hymn of the material, visible, world. This hymn...is addressed to him who sits upon the throne. It thereby puts on the same level God and the Lamb, whose Godhead is being proclaimed. This marks the climax of the universal, cosmic praise that is rendered the Lamb. The emphatic "Amen!" of the four living creatures, and the worship offered by the elders bring this introductory vision to a close.
— The Navarre Bible - Revelation
The Gospel is from St. John, 21:1-19, which tells us of a third apparition, wherewith seven of the eleven were favored. ...The seven disciples are fishing: it is the Church working out her apostolate. Peter is the master-fisherman; it belongs to him to decide when and where the nets are to be thrown. The other six Apostles unite with him in the work, and Jesus is with them all, looking upon their labor, and directing it, for whatever is procured by it is all for him. The fish are the faithful, for, as we have already had occasion to remark, the Christian was often called by this name in the early ages. It was the font, it was water, that gave him his Christian life. ...There is a mystery, too, in the number of the fishes that are taken; but what it is that is signified by these hundred and fifty-three we shall perhaps never know, until the day of judgment reveals the secret. They probably denote some divisions or portions of the human race, that are to be gradually led, by the apostolate of the Church, to the Gospel of Christ: but, once more, till God's time comes, the book must remain sealed.
Having reached the shore, the Apostles surround their beloved Master, and lo! he has prepared them a repast: bread, and a fish lying on hot coals. This fish is not one of those they themselves have caught; they are to partake of it now that they have come from the water. The early Christians thus interpret the mystery: the fish represents Christ, who was made to suffer the cruel torments of the Passion, and whose love of us was the fire that consumed him; and he became the divine food of them that are regenerated by water. We have elsewhere remarked, that in the primitive Church, the Greek word for fish (Ichthus
) was venerated as a sacred symbol, inasmuch as the letters of this word formed the initials of the titles of our Redeemer.
But Jesus would unite, in the same repast, both the divine Fish, which is himself, and those other fishes, which represent all mankind, and have been drawn out of the water in Peter's net. The Paschal feast has the power to effect, by love, an intimate and substantial union between the Food and the guests, between the Lamb of God and the other lambs who are his brethren, between the divine Fish and those others that he has associated with himself by the closest ties of fellowship. They, like him, have been offered in sacrifice; they follow him in suffering and in glory. Witness the great deacon Laurence, around whose tomb the faithful are now assembled. He was made like to his divine Master when he was burnt to death on his red-hot gridiron; he is now sharing with him in an eternal Pasch, the glories of Jesus' victory, and the joys of his infinite happiness.
— The Liturgical Year
, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
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