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153 Fish

Updated: Apr 28, 2023




Today's reading, on the Friday in the Octave of Easter, always resonates with me. The reading is from the Gospel according to John, Chapter 21, Verses 1-14. John describes the disciples' third encounter with Jesus after his crucifixion and resurrection. Simon Peter, John, and a few of the other disciples had been fishing off the shore of Tiberias in the Sea of Galilee with no success. They were ready to give up. Then Jesus shows up and Jesus asks them if they have caught anything knowing they have caught nothing. He tells them to go ahead and cast their net on a certain side of the boat and assures them, they will have better success there. He was right. Their net was filled to the brim and the Gospel mentions the disciples caught 153 fish and the net did not even tear.


How many times have we felt like giving up after not accomplishing a goal after trying and trying, and trying. It could be that we have submitted several job applications but we receive the dreaded letter in the mail telling us "we are sorry, this is not a reflection of your skills but of the competitive nature of the applicant pool." It could be we are struggling to get ahead in life and each time we think we are over the hurdle, we have another setback. It could be we are trying to lose weight and each time we do, we fail or the scale doesn't seem to change regardless of how hard we try. It could be we have tried and tried to redirect our children or young adults and they are just not getting it. It could be we are seeking housing and we are at our wits end and ready to give up. Or our grades in school are below standards even when we have tried so hard to do better. My point is the situation can be different for each of us but we have all had that feeling, that moment or those moments, that no matter what we do, it is not working out as we would like it to.


Could it be we are casting our net on the wrong side of the boat or maybe even in the wrong sea? Sometimes, we get tunnel vision on how we think we can succeed at something. Or that, that something is what we really need. However, if we continue to attempt to succeed in the same way and that same way is not working, or looking for the things we think we want but we do not really need, it may be time to accomplish our goal by looking in another direction or using different strategies. Perhaps like the disciples, listening to the man on the shore, Jesus.


The disciples in John's Gospel, listened to Jesus blindly, relying on their faith to try something different. Sometimes, it is good to take pause from our attempts at something to reflect, pray, and listen to where God is guiding us. Many times, doors close on us to reveal another door where we will find what we need. It may often times be something different than what we were seeking. We may experience that Aha. We may have finally realized how to accomplish or obtain what it is we really needed and, guess what, the net did not even tear - going in a different direction did not break us. Now, that is an amazing feeling. It was always there, we just could not see it because of our tunnel vision. We were relying on our own human abilities and limitations without considering our supernatural God has his hand in everything and if we ask for help, he will respond at the right time and in a way we had not considered to be what was needed to move forward. I always think that the 153 fish represent the many times we have attempted something with zero results only to have the abundance of our labor come in multitudes (153 fish) when we choose the right thing and better route to reach that goal.


At the end of this passage, Jesus invites the disciples to come and sit with him and enjoy breakfast with him. He distributed the bread and then the fish. The bread and the fish must have reminded the disciples how Jesus fed the multitudes with just five loaves of bread and two fish during his ministry. He revealed himself to them in this way and in a way was telling the disciples "It is okay, everything is going to be alright, through God all things are possible, believe." Jesus models for us what he expects from us. I believe this message is for all of us to have faith. God knows what we need when we need it and he wants us to give some of what we have received, even if may be, respectively, very little to help others. He asks us to do this and we too shall be able to recline and enjoy the fruits of our labor with our Heavenly Father.


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