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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. John 21:12–14
The appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection were cloaked in mystery. Not a mystery of confusion, but a mystery of profound depth and awe. On this, the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples, Jesus first spoke to them from the shore after they had been fishing all night without catching anything. He told them to try again and to throw the net over the right side of the boat. They did so without even realizing that it was Jesus Who was speaking to them. But upon catching more than they could handle, they realized it was the Lord.
The “mystery” present in this resurrection appearance has many aspects. Why did the disciples not recognize Jesus at first? Why did Jesus instruct them to throw the net over the right side of the boat? Why was Jesus made known through this catch of one hundred and fifty-three large fish? Why was Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples on the shore? And why did John record that “none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’” Though all of these mysteries have answers that have been offered over the centuries by the saints and great Scripture commentators, it’s useful to also simply ponder the fact that Jesus’ resurrection appearances were, indeed, cloaked in mystery.
In a mystery novel, the reader is given various vague clues to help them try to figure out the mystery and solve it. The clues are vague intentionally so as to make the solving more enjoyable and challenging. However, when it comes to a “mystery of faith,” such as the mystery of faith surrounding Jesus’ resurrection appearances, the mystery is of an entirely different sort. In these cases, the mystery is one of depth and breadth and is something that has the potential to draw us deeper and deeper into the infinite nature of God and His saving action.
Take, for example, this one line quoted above: “And none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they realized it was the Lord.” It appears that the disciples gathered around Jesus as He was preparing breakfast on the shore and sat there in awe of Him. Their silent awe of Him in this appearance reveals that words are not sufficient. Normally, when you see someone whom you are happy to see, you greet them and start talking, asking them how they are, etc. But here, the disciples remained in this holy awe, listening to Him, receiving this meal and pondering the mystery of His resurrected presence.
Reflect, today, upon the ways that our Lord comes to you. It’s easy to miss Him since His ongoing presence in our lives is also mysterious. Imagine if the disciples would have ignored Jesus’ call to “Cast the net over the right side of the boat…” If they would have ignored that command, they may have never come to realize it was the Lord. Reflect upon the ways that our Lord speaks to you. Do you respond? Do you recognize Him? Do you allow yourself to be drawn into this holy awe of His divine presence? Follow the example of the disciples and be on the lookout for the ongoing presence of our Lord all around you.
My divine Lord, You are constantly present to me, day and night, and yet I so often fail to perceive You and adore You. Help me to become more aware of Your presence in my life. As I do, help me to enter more deeply into these holy mysteries with love, devotion and awe. Jesus, I trust in You.
Source of content: mycatholic.life