Throughout the Easter season, our first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles, the story of the early church right after Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Part of what the early church experienced was persecution. Today we hear how Peter and the other apostles were brought in before the Sanhedrin for preaching about Jesus. Their response was “We must obey God rather than men.”
It is not easy to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus knew his disciples would be persecuted just as He was persecuted. He knew they would need strength for this. That is why He did not simply die and never be heard from again.
Two weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, we heard the great news that the tomb was found empty. Last week, we heard how Jesus appeared twice to his disciples in the locked room after the Resurrection. Today, we hear of the third time He appeared to them.
To understand the significance of these appearances, we must pay attention to the specific words about the appearances. Today’s gospel doesn’t call them “appearances.” They are referred to as Jesus revealing himself. He reveals to them what comes after death so that we might have hope in the Resurrection.
As Jesus revealed himself to his disciples on the shore, He did not simply appear, say hello, and leave. What He did do was support them.
After Jesus’ first two appearances to his disciples, they went fishing. We should not take this too lightly. Several of them were fishermen by trade. So, with Jesus no longer with them, they felt they had to provide for their livelihood. So, they went back to was familiar to them, fishing.
On their own they caught nothing. Maybe you have experienced the same problem, facing a difficult situation where you tried to take care of it in your own way without success.
Then comes Jesus. He told them to “Cast the net over the right side of the boat” and the catch was abundant. This is why it is important for us to listen to Jesus. When we listen to Jesus good things happen.
The story of how Jesus provided for them did not end with the abundant catch. While they were pulling in their nets with the abundant catch, Jesus was already on the shore, cooking breakfast.
He had fish before they brought the catch in. More importantly, He had bread. This leads me to the way in which Jesus supports us. He feeds us with not just ordinary bread. He feeds us with the bread that we know as the Eucharist. It is the Body of Christ to strengthen us. It is the Bread of Life that we need to live as Jesus calls us.
This is why it is important for us to come to Mass every week, to receive the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ. We eat physical food on a regular basis, knowing it is necessary for earthly life. We need to eat the spiritual food that Jesus offers us to nourish our souls.
At our 10:30 Mass this weekend, we have four children who receive this precious Bread for the first time. We call it First Communion or First Eucharist. I emphasis the word “first” because it is meant to be exactly that, the first time we receive it. That means there should be more times afterwards.
These children have already been coming to Mass where they have been fed with God’s Word as found in scripture. They have been attending religion classes and preparation for the Sacrament to help them understand exactly what it is they are receiving.
It is not simply ordinary bread. It is the Bread of Life, it is the Body of Christ.
The Eucharist is a gift, a gift that we are not worthy to receive on our own. Yet, Jesus chooses to make us worthy by giving his life on the Cross so that our sins might be forgiven. We need to repent. We need to turn back to Jesus.
Look at Peter’s conversation with Jesus today. Why did Jesus ask him three times if he loved him?
When Jesus was arrested and put on trial, how many times did Peter deny knowing him? Three times. Peter’s three times affirming his love for Jesus is to show his repentance for his sins.
With that in mind, before these four children make their First Eucharist this weekend, in the Fall they made their First Penance. Again, the word “first” should tell us that it should not be the only time they confess their sins.
I said before, we need to receive Communion weekly to feed our souls. How often do we need to confess our sins? I cannot give you a number. What I can tell you that we are called to confess our sins whenever we are aware of mortal sin so that God can forgive us and make us worthy to receive the Eucharist we NEED.