April 21, 2017: Friday of the Easter Week
[After resurrection of Jesus, the disciples] soon left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee. It was a great relief to be able to abandon the city where they had suffered so much. Galilee greeted them with all the serenity of its spring season—the olive trees, the green grass, the fragrances in the air, and the blue of their beloved Sea of Tiberias, on the shore of which they had experienced so many happy moments with Jesus. They stayed in Capernaum, in the houses of Simeon, the sons of Zebedee, and other friends.
They went back to their usual activities almost immediately, always with the freedom that they found in their attachment to no one but Jesus, their friend who had conquered death.
One evening, Peter felt the need to go back out onto the lake. “I’m going fishing”, he said to those who were with him, without thinking that everyone would join him. The night fell gently on the tranquil water. Peter pushed the boat out onto the lake, rowed out, and cast the net—and then realized that he was doing this not because he wanted to fish but because he wanted Jesus. One day he had encountered the Master while casting his nets; he had encountered him in accepting to row back out onto the lake; he had encountered him on this same boat, doing the things he was doing now. He now realized that he could do nothing, experience nothing without desiring that Jesus be present with him, in their midst.
At the first light of dawn, they decided to go back. Simon was disappointed not because they hadn’t caught anything but because Jesus had not appeared. A stranger approached them on the sandy shore and called out to them from a distance, “Children, have you any fish?” (Jn 21:5). They answered bluntly, almost in unison, “No” (Jn 21:6). They looked at one another in amazement. John stared intently at the stranger. They cast their nets, without even paying attention to what they were doing. Immediately the nets were full. John whispered to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter recoiled. Of course! Who else could it be? How could he not have recognized him at once? Without thinking, Peter jumped into the water, to the astonishment of his companions, except for John, who understood everything.
Jesus was smiling at him. They looked at each other, but Peter did not dare speak. There was already a fire there near Jesus, with a fish roasting on it, and some bread. The fire seemed to have been burning for a long time. As soon as the others had reached them, Jesus turned to them, saying: “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught” (Jn 21:10). Simon did not leave the others any time to react: he jumped onto the boat and, with an immense effort, dragged the net to the shore by himself. Jesus continued to smile and, without waiting any longer, said, “Come and have breakfast”, giving each of them pieces of roasted fish and bread.
Everything was so simple, so natural, just like it used to be—and yet the man who was standing in front of them, looking at them, serving them, touching their fingers with his own, and eating with them, smiling silently, was the one who had been crucified and had died!
By Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lapori, "Simon Called Peter"