WITHOUT JESUS IT ISN’T POSSIBLE
The meeting of the Risen Jesus with his disciples near the Sea of Galilee is described with a clear catechetical intention. In the story this meeting underlies the central symbolism of the catch in the middle of the lake. Its message couldn’t be more to the point for us Christians: only the presence of the Risen Jesus can make the evangelizing work of his disciples effective.
The story first describes for us the work that the disciples are doing in the middle of the night. It all starts with a decision of Simon Peter: «I’m going fishing». The other disciples join him: «We’re going with you». They are all together again, but Jesus is missing. They go out fishing, but they don’t set out listening to Jesus’ call, but following Simon Peter’s initiative.
The narrator makes it clear that this work is done at night and ends up fruitless: «that night they didn’t catch anything». In the language of the evangelist, the «night» signifies the absence of Jesus who is the Light. Without the presence of the Risen Jesus, without his encouragement and his guiding word, there is no fruitful evangelization.
When morning comes, Jesus appears. From the shore he communicates with his friends by means of his Word. The disciples don’t know it’s Jesus, and they only recognize him when they obediently follow his directions and end up with a surprising catch. Such a thing can only be due to Jesus, the Prophet who one day called them to be «fishers of people».
The situation in not a few parishes and Christian communities is critical. Energy drains away. The more committed Christians spread themselves out to cover all kinds of tasks: always the same ones and the same ones for everything. Do we need to double our efforts and seek progress at any price, or do we need to stop and take better care of the living presence of the Risen One in our work?
In order to spread the Good News of Jesus and work efficiently in his project, what’s most important isn’t «doing a lot of things», but taking better care of the human and Gospel-based quality of what we’re doing. What’s decisive isn’t activism but the witness of life that we Christians can radiate.
We can’t stay on the «surface of faith». These are moments of taking care of what’s essential before anything else. We fill our communities with words, texts, writing, but what’s decisive is that Jesus is listened to in our midst. We have all kinds of meetings, but what’s most important is what gathers us each Sunday to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Only in him is our evangelizing energy nourished.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf