Our Lord Appears to the Disciples on the Seashore.
It is early morning. A little boat is floating on the still waters of the lake of Genesareth; in it are some fishermen who have been toiling and exerting themselves all night long at their trade, but without meeting with any success; they have not caught any fish. Those men are our Lord’s disciples. Just as they have taken in their nets and are preparing to return home, all their efforts having been fruitless, our Lord appears to them on the banks of the lake, calling to them in accents of tender, loving solicitude: “Children, have you any meat?” (St. John xxi. 5.) Keep this scene before your eyes during your meditation.
1st. Our Lord does not make this inquiry of His disciples concerning food on His own behalf—He has risen from the dead, and His glorified body stands in no need of earthly aliments—it is for their sake that He asks whether they have a provision of fish. His design is to bring them, through the recognition of their own poverty and weakness, to a sense of their dependence upon Him, their Master, to show them how little they can do without Him, and then to afford them assistance and give them an abundant harvest of fishes. O most bountiful Jesus! How often dost Thou stand before us, asking something from us not for Thyself, but for our benefit. So it is with you, my soul; as He once craved a draught of water from the woman of Samaria, in order that He might give her in exchange the living water of divine grace, so oft times He knocks at the door of your heart by means of your Brethren and Sisters, asking from you this or that trifling act of charity, requiring of you this or that sacrifice, with the purpose of bestowing on you a great, a superabundantly great reward, provided you hear His call and obey His voice.
2d. Consider the command our Lord gives to His disciples, to cast the net out once more. What behest could have been more inopportune, more inconvenient than this? How strange, how wanting in common sense we may almost say, this suggestion must have appeared to these men, experienced as they were in their craft. They had already cleansed their nets and stowed them away carefully, and now to cast them out again seemed utterly useless, since during the livelong night, which was the proper, suitable time for fishing, they had caught nothing. In spite of this they obeyed, they submitted their apparently better judgment and did as they were bidden, and the recompense of their obedience was a draught of fishes more numerous, of larger size than any they had previously taken in the waters of the lake. Here, my soul, you see the blessing that attends upon obedience. Take example from these disciples. By obeying, by subordinating your judgment to the will of your Superior, you will gain a great reward; whereas if you throw off the yoke of obedience you will perhaps labor all night without taking a single fish in your net. Look back at your past life and ask yourself whether it does not afford confirmation of this truth.
3d. Consider that our Lord was recognized first of all by John, who said to the others in the ship: “It is the Lord.” (St. John xxi. 7.) John was the eagle that proudly soars aloft and gazes on the sun, the emblem of the contemplative and meditative life; he was also the virgin apostle. Hence we may learn what first and foremost leads to the knowledge of God, to the comprehension of the mysteries He has revealed, to the sense of His nearness, to the reception of His inspirations, of His graces. It is the contemplation of God, meditation upon the truths of revelation, a life of chastity and virginity. “Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.” (St. Matt. v. 8.) If you keep your soul pure and unstained; if you consecrate yourself with chaste heart to the contemplative life; if, as far as your daily duties permit you keep up the practice of daily meditation, then you will, like John, be the first to recognize the Lord, to feel Him near and experience His consolations, and you will gather in as rich a harvest for your spiritual life as the disciples did for their material existence on this day. But if hitherto your efforts have been devoid of success, if in fact you have labored all night long and taken nothing, O examine yourself, ask yourself whether the reason is not to be found in the fact that there has been about you too little resemblance to John, the virginal apostle, the contemplative saint.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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