This weekend we hear of the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection. A common problem for anyone who tries to harmonize all the post resurrection stories is that there are just too many of them. How could one story be right and another wrong? Such anguish perhaps comes from a failure to understand how the Gospels were composed. There was no single tradition written down a few weeks after Pentecost and then preserved carefully until the Gospel authors settled down to write.
Rather, different bits and pieces of Jesus stories were saved by individuals and groups of his followers and then handed down orally for decades. The point of the stories was never lost, but the form changed as they were told and retold. Then the Gospel writers, each with his own purpose and style, gathered together the stories that fitted their narrative.
Today’s Gospel may be the most charming — the risen Jesus appears out of the morning mists on the shores of Galilee which he walked once before. It is not surprising that it is a well told story, because the author of John’s Gospel was a master story teller. There are several parts or acts to today’s Gospel.
The first act has the disciples, specifically Thomas and Nathaniel, with Peter and the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples, setting out to fish. Then, as I mentioned, Jesus appears in the early morning light and gives them some fishing advice which produces an unexpected haul of fish. The next part has the disciples eating with Jesus in a kind of Eucharistic meal. The final act ends with Peter being declared the “leader” of the flock.
Did Jesus actually meet his followers on the beaches of the Lake after he rose from the dead? Who would dare deny it? The events that took place on that misty seashore were remembered and written down precisely because the first believers clearly wanted to say something to us about the risen Jesus. Sitting in our coastal and hinterland parish pews this weekend can we identify with and articulate what those first believers saw?
Fr Peter Brannelly
Until a new parish Priest of the Maroochydore Parish is appointed, the Archbishop has appointed me Administrator of Stella Maris Parish. The role of Administrator is largely administrative, ensuring the continuation of good governance of the Parish.