Easter Friday 2019

It is breakfast on the beach time again. The disciples have been night-fishing: they were at a loose end and needed to occupy their time to distract themselves from their darker thoughts, but they have had no success. Then that mysterious figure appears on the shore, gives an odd instruction which nets a huge catch, and Peter does his best to escape. It is all very human and understandable. The difficulty comes when we begin to notice the more explicitly theological elements in the narrative (John 21.1–14) — the 153 fish (the square of the Trinity plus the square of the apostles according to some medieval commentators); the meal of bread and fish (recalling the passover meal as a symbol of the Eucharist as well as the miracle of the loaves and fishes) and so on and so forth.

I find particularly interesting the way in which the disciples react to what they see. ‘None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?”; they knew quite well it was the Lord.’ Once again we seem to have some doubt, some newness about the Risen Christ which confuses the disciples, who are nevertheless confirmed in their faith by what they experience. And there is Peter, poor hot-headed Peter, who has no doubts at all but simply wants to get away and hide his shame. He, at least, seems to recognize the person on the shore; but even though he knows who he is, he doesn’t fully understand the new relationsip of love and forgiveness that now exists between them. It will take the threefold question and commission of the next few verses to make that clear.

One of the difficulties many of us experience is believing that we are fogiven. We forget that God always takes the initiative. From the first moment of our becoming conscious of sin, of our wanting to repent, grace is at work in us. We don’t often feel any different after we have confessed and been absolved from our sins; but we are different. We are in a new relationship with the Lord, and no matter how often we fall, how often we sin again, his grace is always waiting for us. That is all very well in theory, but it is actually quite difficult to live by because it reminds us that we are not in control. And we do so love to be in charge! Today’s gospel teaches us that all our so-called certainties can be over-turned by God in a moment; that his abundance is never limited by our imagining.

This morning we see the disciples struggling to understand, and we struggle with them. Breakfast on the beach is never effortless.

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2 thoughts on “Easter Friday 2019”

  1. I read a blog post this morning discussing those who don’t believe, referencing Richard Dawkins as one of the touch points.

    I commented there that during the Telivised debate between Rowan Williams and Mr Dawkins, he said “I believe 99% that there is not a God”, which leaves open the question of the 1% possibility in his doubt, that there is a God?

    We can rationalise all that we like that God doesn’t exist and his grace is just human goodness, but somewhere there is going to be a chink in our armour of doubt, that leaves the possibility of a change of mind.

    As you may recall, I spent nearly 25 years as an agnostic, not denying God, but certainly not proclaiming him. I was a doubter, unsure, and damaged by experiences of faith that hurt. But God was patient, found the chink in my armour and broke it wide open. So, we can pray that the same is true of every “God Doubter” and that the will have access to God’s Grace, and will be able to be reconciled to him in heart and mind and soul. Surely a prayer worth using daily.

  2. “we do so like to be in charge” – (of life, of ourselves, surely not of others! 😉 oh, don’t we???

    It is always an illusion to think we are, or that we are independent, but we (I) hang on to that illusion effortlessly. Thank you for the reminder of the challenge ….

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