Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2022

By Linda Fitzgerald, Notre Dame Associate

The disciples are encountering Jesus after the Resurrection… John 21:1-9

The disciples have caught nothing during their night fishing and as they draw close to the shore Jesus says: “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”  Peter says the number of fish caught was 153.  I looked to see some significance of this number.  Some commentaries suggest that the number could signify that it took 153, 000 people to build the temple and others say the number 153 represents the different kinds of fish so that could mean there would be so many different kinds of people that are to “catch” the word of God and become His disciples.

The fish and bread are shared by Jesus similar in manner to the Eucharist.  This Eucharist is nurturing and sustaining to those who follow him (then and now).  After they had eaten, the following dialogue ensues:

Jesus: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”   Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He then said to Simon Peter a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me? And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”

Peter’s triple denial in the garden on Good Friday is now replaced by three affirmations of love.

John Paul II said “Peter as a shepherd is to lead His (Jesus’) sheep to food and safety, so the shepherd of souls must offer them the food of God’s word and of His holy will, ensuring the unity of the flock and defending it from every hostile attack.”

We who are feeding His sheep…“How do we continue to feed His sheep?”  Feed is action and the church is His sheep.  We must not neglect His sheep.  It seems to me that if we love Jesus, we will bring people to Him.  We will make disciples.

We will feed His sheep.