As the Easter season continues to unfold, we consider the various appearances of Jesus to His disciples, appearances of mercy, appearances intended to assist in bewilderment and discouragement. Indeed, in his commentary on this gospel passage, St. Thomas Aquinas says of Peter resuming his previous trade, “I concur with Augustine, that if Peter had returned to the work of fishing before Christ's resurrection and before seeing Christ's wounds, it was because he was acting out of despair.” Peter had given up. There was no reason to continue the ministry, for their leader was supposedly dead.
Jesus, out of mercy, comes to them, in the midst of their despair, engages them in the activity for which they abandoned their ministry, and, instead of scolding them, makes it enormously successful: “they cast the net, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish”. Talk about magnanimity of heart. Jesus never holds a grudge, for there is no time to waste in love.
The Risen Lord comes to us, to assist us in our despair. We are sometimes overwhelmed, lose sight of Him, and return to former ways. But He does not hold a grudge. He engages us right where we are. Now, we may not always immediately recognize him. Let us know in faith that He is present. Let us lean on the testimonies of others. Let us trust. And let us know that His hiddenness is perhaps His way of asking us, as He asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Even though we may be bewildered and discouraged by life’s circumstances, we can still, aided by the Holy Spirit, respond as Peter so movingly did, in the midst of his bewilderment and discouragement "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
Yours in our Risen Lord,