Seeing the Risen Christ

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James Tissot (1836-1902). Christ Appears on the Shore of Lake Tiberias (Apparition du Christ sur les bords du lac de Tibériade), 1886-1894.
James Tissot (1836-1902). Christ Appears on the Shore of Lake Tiberias (Apparition du Christ sur les bords du lac de Tibériade), 1886-1894.

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:1-14, NRSV)

It’s Friday in Easter Week, and I’m finding that the secular signs of Eastertide are fading rapidly. The prices on the candy aisle have been cut in half; the local florists are starting to clear out the Easter Lilies with some urgency. The church celebrates Easter for fifty days, but even here, the signs seem to fade as well: we’ll trade the cloth of gold altar frontal for the white one tomorrow, and remove those flowers that have wilted over the course of the week. But even as the most potent symbols of Easter start to fade from view, the Paschal Candle is still lit – and we find that the reality of the resurrection is not limited to Easter morning – but soaks into our everyday lives.

In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, the disciples have returned to Galilee after their time in Jerusalem; Jesus has already met Mary in the garden, and has invited Thomas to put his hand in his wounded side. The disciples are home, and have resumed their everyday lives. In fact, they’ve returned to the trade they know best: the disciples have gone fishing. And it is here, in the midst of their everyday lives, that the Risen Jesus comes and meets them.

In this Eastertide, how often do we take the time to look around and see the Risen Jesus in our everyday lives?  When the Peeps have run out, and the Easter Sunday crowd has left the church, how often do we look for the Risen Jesus in our midst?  The very first promise given by the angel to the women at the tomb in Matthew’s gospel is that Jesus is going ahead to Galilee – to the realm of ordinary life.  He is here! He is risen!

The Risen Jesus is here – urging us to cast out our nets one more time. Jesus Christ is here, urging us, like Peter, to feed his sheep. Jesus is here – when we work, when pray, when we go to the grocery store.  So the challenge for us this Easter is to ask ourselves: are we looking for him?

At the end of the day, pray the Examen (an example is here), to see where the Risen Jesus was present to you. Take the time to: (1) Become aware of God’s presence, (2) Review the entire day – mundane and extraordinary – and be note what you are thankful for, (3) Pay attention to your emotions, and pray on how God is present in those feelings, (5) Look toward tomorrow, asking for God’s continuing help and guidance.

-David Sibley

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