We take comfort in familiarity. For Simon Peter, fishing is familiar. We assume that he’s already seen the risen Lord with the other disciples. But there’s been no specific mention of Peter since he stood in the empty tomb, puzzled by Jesus’ abandoned grave clothes. He cannot remove the guilt and blame of his denial of Jesus from his soul as easily as he can take the robe from his back. So he goes fishing. His friends come along. They try to return to life before Jesus, before the upper room, before the garden, before the crow of the cock.
When we feel let down, and life doesn’t play out as we hoped, the easiest route is back the way we came. Like Peter, we cling to something that helps to pass the hours and occupy our minds. When we feel like we’ve failed God and strayed too far from God’s grace, we feel drawn to old ways of life.
The funny thing is that Peter’s not very good at fishing anymore. He’s tasted heavenly power but tries to get by on his own power. The results? Empty nets and frustrated, sleepy friends—until a stranger yells advice from the shore. The nets fill, and Peter recognizes the mysterious fishing adviser. Instead of cowering in a corner of the boat, ashamed of his past, Peter leaps toward his Lord. He swims toward a second chance that awaits him on the land.
Jesus already has breakfast on the “stove.” He wants what they have too, saying, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught” (ceb). Jesus feeds them, and the disciples feed him in a fellowship of forgiven friends. It’s easy to run from a new beginning. But when we choose to run toward the beginning, what awaits us is a familiar friend.
Today I will let go of shame and guilt. I will accept a new beginning.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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