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Lectionary 265: Resurrection Faith

April 24, 2014


Scripture: Lectionary 265. April 25. Acts 4:1-12.  Psalm 118:1-2,4.22-24,26-27.  John 21: 1-14:

The Gospel of John may have had as many as five redactions before we have the final canonical writing that we now read.  We can see another redactor’s hand at work in the last two chapters of John.  Chapter 20 has the Resurrection scenes in Jerusalem; chapter 21 has them in Galilee. We are graced to have all of these appearances in John, while realizing that the appearances are significant as seen in their individuality.  Today we have the great catch of 153 fish by the disciples. Seven are there in the boat, but Peter is the first to be named and have a special role in the narrative together with the rather mysterious “other disciple” who may be the Beloved Disciple; or is the Beloved Disciple John the son of Zebedee and the brother of James?

We are told this is the third of such appearances in John. Does he mean the two others were mentioned in chapter 20 or is he referring to two other appearances in Galilee?  These are more exegetical and historical critical questions that do not touch upon the belief in the reality of the Resurrection. The symbolism that I find more important than the miraculous haul of fish (153 of them) is the fact that the net is not broken and none of the fish are lost.  It shows me the power of the Resurrection that may be seen in the Church in its universal proclamation of Jesus and in the unity brought about by the embracing of all peoples.  The passage is intriguing and is similar to what we have heard from Luke about Jesus eating some cooked fish.  Here he is preparing the fish with bread on the shore for the disciples who have labored throughout many hours.  They are rewarded by listening to what Jesus is telling them about where to cast their net.  The event has meaning when seen from an ecclesial perspective and from the theology of the Evangelist-redactor who has handed down this account of a third appearance of Jesus in Galilee.  Location, time, and circumstances do not hinder where and when Jesus appears in these last chapters of all the Gospels.  Mark and Matthew favor Galilee;  Luke definitely chooses Jerusalem and its surroundings;  John does both Jerusalem in chapter 20 and Galilee in chapter 21.

The central message of all of the appearances is that Jesus is risen after having died and been buried in a tomb near Jerusalem.  His appearances are in human form with all that we humans do.  So the belief in bodily resurrection is inferred. We are fortunate to have a good number of them so as to ponder over the mystery from at least four different points of view including four different theologies seen in the Gospels.  We savor each one as the liturgy does and thereby deepen our belief in the Resurrection.  Which one is my favorite?  I enjoy the clear association that Luke makes with the Resurrection by uniting it to the whole of the Scriptures of Jesus (the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms or Writings) and the blessing, breaking, and partaking of the Eucharist.  Resurrection and Eucharist are inseparable and are affirmed by the Scriptures and the long living Tradition of the Church.   We rejoice that Jesus Christ is alive and is living in our midst. Alleluia. Amen.

Fr. John L.McKenzie has this helpful summation of resurrection faith:

The resurrection is the climactic achievement in the acts of God. To recognize the event as a fact is nothing; to accept it as a saving deed is to believe in it and to receive the salvation which is achieved by it. In John 20:29 it is faith in the resurrection, not observation of the fact, which is blessed by Jesus.  The importance of the resurrection in the preaching and catechesis of the New Testament rests upon its theological significance.   (Dictionary of the Bible, p.733).


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