Friday in the Octave of Easter (April 21, 2017): Moving forward into mature spiritual growth

Thứ Năm, 20-04-2017 | 16:54:30

Today’s Readings:

Acts 4:1-12
Ps 118:1-2, 4, 22-27a
John 21:1-14

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

Good News Reflection:

Recall a time when you realized that Jesus was ministering to you through another person or some unusual circumstance. You had no need to ask Jesus, “Who are you?” or “Is that you, Lord?” because you knew the answer.

Prior to the incident that happened in today’s Gospel reading, whenever the resurrected Jesus visited his disciples, they either didn’t recognize him or they thought he was a ghost. Now at last they have reached enough spiritual maturity to know Jesus when they encounter him.

What convinced them that this man standing on the lake shore was the Lord? Was it the miracle of the super-abundant catch of fish after a night of frustration and disappointment? As a repeat of what had happened at the beginning of his ministry, this might have been a clue. Or had they learned to sense his nearness?

How do we recognize Jesus?

Today’s first reading reminds us that we reject the presence of Jesus when we fail to recognize him in the people around us, or when we fail to accept what he’s doing in our long-suffering hardships. What seems like the wrong way to solve a problem actually is the cornerstone of God’s plan. What seems like a reason to doubt God’s love turns out to be the cornerstone of new spiritual growth. What seems like the loss of a relationship can become the cornerstone of a new and better friendship. What seems like a day of disaster is really “the day the Lord has made”, a day to “rejoice and be glad in it”, as today’s responsorial Psalm proclaims.

Every time we give up, every time we despair, every time we lose hope, we are misunderstanding Jesus. He is always — always! — busy caring for us and working for our benefit (and for the benefit of everyone else who’s involved in the situation). He’s always fulfilling the Father’s plans for us — plans for our good, a loving plan. It’s impossible for him to do otherwise!

Spiritual maturity comes from learning to recognize Jesus and keeping our eyes on him. We mature as he reveals himself through scripture, the Eucharist, in our hearts, in the love of the people around us, in the gifts and talents that God has given us, in the way circumstances fall into place and our prayers are answered, in the circumstances that don’t seem good, in the people who are difficult to love, and in the dark where we can’t see God at all.

When we ask: “Where are you, God? Who are you? Is that you?” — that’s when we’re on the cusp of new spiritual growth. The next step is to trust that God is right here beside us doing much good.

Today’s Prayer:

Lord, grant me the grace to listen for and then act on Your divine advice. Help me to recognize Your wisdom when it comes through those You have intentionally chosen to talk to me. Amen.

© 2017 by Terry A. Modica

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