Signs

Jesus multiplies loaves and fish

Summary

Gospel - Luke [5, 1-11]

As the crowd thronged around him to hear the word of God, Jesus, standing by the lake of Gennèsaret, saw two boats approaching the shore. The fishermen had come down and washed their nets. He got into a boat, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon: "Put out into the deep and cast your nets for fishing". Simon replied: "Master, we worked all night and caught nothing; but at your word I will let down the nets".

They did so and caught a huge amount of fish and their nets almost broke. Then they motioned to their companions in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats until they nearly sank. Seeing this, Simon Peter threw himself on Jesus' knees, saying, "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinner".

In fact, astonishment had invaded him and all those who were with him, for the fishing they had done; so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. Jesus said to Simon: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be a fisher of men". And, having pulled the boats ashore, they left everything and followed him.

Exegesis - Luke [5, 1-11]

Standing by the lake of Gennèsaret, surrounded by the crowd who had come to listen to him, Jesus sees two boats moored on the shore, from which some fishermen descend who, resigned for that useless night without soon having any fish, wash and put their nets. Jesus gets into the boat and asks Simon Peter to put out a little from the land. Peter moves the boat, so that the Master can teach more comfortably the crowd that was crowding more and more on the beach.

Having finished speaking, Jesus says to Simon: "Put out into the deep and cast your nets for fishing". Simone is astonished and does not hold back an almost disapproving comment: "Master, we struggled all night, even though it is the favorable time for fishing, despite our fatigue we have caught nothing, but trusting your word I will cast the nets". Then Peter takes off, sets the nets on the word of Jesus, thus professing the greatest faith and the greatest obedience towards the Master.

Obedience determines the miracle, because Peter trusts the words of Jesus: fishing becomes a miraculous catch, so much so that the nets threaten to break, so much so that the help of another boat is needed, so much so that both boats are so full of fish that they almost sank.

The contrast between the previous useless catch and the very abundant catch made in adherence to the word of Jesus is evident. Peter's reaction to the sign of the miraculous catch is extraordinary: amazement, almost incredulity in the face of a humanly incomprehensible fact and, with an act of authentic faith, "he threw himself at the knees of Jesus, saying: "Lord, turn away from me, because I am a sinner". It is extraordinary what emerges from his soul and the awareness in recognizing his sins, his limitations, and it is also the admission of unworthiness, as did the prophet Isaiah at the moment of his vocation.
(cfr. Is 6,5).

Peter's acknowledgment of sin is not the confession of a sinful life, but rather the acknowledgment of the distance between man and God, of his own condition as unworthy and as a sinner. And this "call to fish" shows that Peter's ministry was not granted for his qualities, but for God's gratuitousness! The words of Jesus that close the dialogue are prophetic words: the initial invitation "Put out into the deep", testifies that this invitation takes on the aspect of the manifestation of God, and it is not an order but a prophetic word that anticipates a reality shortly thereafter confirmed in its truth.

The sign of the miraculous catch of fish reveals the power of the word of Jesus and just as powerful will be the promise, which will make Peter a "fisher of men". Yes, on the word of Jesus Peter has caught a large quantity of fish, but it is only the prelude to a success that will be even greater when, on the very word of Jesus, he will cast his net into the world.

Certainly, the prophetic word of Jesus is powerful from the first moment, as the expression "fear not, from now on ..." suggests; in fact for Peter a new time begins immediately as a fisher of men; and the conclusion of the piece is unexpected and surprising: "they left everything and followed him". This call comes not from an order, but from the call of a vigorous Word, capable of indicating abundant fishing, but also of making that "yes" that transforms all life desire and mature.

Gospel - John [21, 1-14]

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples on the sea of Tiberias. And he manifested himself in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas known as Dio, Nathanael of Cana of Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing". They said to him: "We are also coming with you". Then they went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.

When it was already dawn, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them: "Children, have you nothing to eat?". They replied: "No". Then he said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find". They threw it away and could no longer pull it up due to the large amount of fish. Then that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter: "It is the Lord!". Simon Peter, as soon as he heard that he was the Lord, pulled his robe around his hips, because he was undressed, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples, on the other hand, came with the boat, dragging the net full of fish: in fact they were not far from the ground if not a hundred meters.

As soon as they got ashore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught". Then Simon Peter got into the boat and hauled the net ashore full of large fish one hundred and fifty-three. And although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, "Come and eat". And none of the disciples dared to ask him: "Who are you?", Because they knew very well that it was the Lord. Jesus came up, took the bread and gave it to them, and so did the fish. It was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, after having risen from the dead.

Exegesis - John [21, 1-14]

Jesus did many signs when he was alive, can these signs still happen after he died? John says yes, and he reports it to us in this passage of the second miraculous catch, which took place after the resurrection of Jesus, as a testimony that those signs can still happen.

After the prodigy of the first catch, Peter, Andrew, James and John left everything and followed Jesus, the call was the sign of that catch, and Jesus had also foretold the mission to Peter, when he said: "Do not be afraid; from now on onwards you will be fisher of men". They are on the Sea of Galilee, they have all returned to Galilee, as the young man had said, sitting on the right, dressed in a white robe: "Tell his disciples and Peter: He goes ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him as he told you".
(Mk 16,7).

And Peter with the disciples returned to the lake of Tiberias, they begin to fish. As in the first miraculous catch, this time too they don't catch anything. When it was already dawn and the disciples were returning to the shore disappointed they see from afar there is someone waiting for them, there is a fire lit and some fish on the grill to burn.

Who is this is waiting for them to eat with them. Did they recognize him? They do not know yet, but they have begun to remember the language and, when they approach, Jesus asks them: "Have you anything to eat?", The request of this stranger is striking: "Children, do you have anything to eat?" they said "no". The stranger seemed to know well what they need, and he gives them the right advice: "Throw the net on the right side and you will find", and the apostles threw it and caught a lot of fish that can't pull it up. Here is a different passage from the first fishing, now they immediately cast the nets without making any comment, perhaps because they remembered the outcome of the first fishing, in their hearts they sensed the presence of Jesus.

Peter must have thought: "But how could I not recognize him? But who is this? But could it be He? Then, as soon as Peter wonders, the disciple who is with him in the boat says: "This is the Master", as if to say: "it can only be him, we did not recognize him". And Peter, full of impetus, throws himself and goes towards the Lord. Once on the shore, they eat with him, at Jesus' question: "Bring some fish that you have caught", they bring fish. "One hundred and fifty-three big fish ... ", perhaps they represent all the cultures that would have opened up to the Gospel and of the peoples known at the time of Jesus, who would have been evangelized.

The Apostles trusted immediately because they understood the authority of that word, of the command, they did not put up any resistance and Jesus was able to act.

St. Augustine states that the two miraculous fishing represent, the first the church in this world and the second church in heaven. The church down here fishes everywhere, and throws its nets where it arrives, because it is not known who will respond to God's call. But the church that will enter Heaven will cast its nets only on the right side, since only the righteous will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Lord presents to us the Church as it will be at the end of time, just as with another fishing he presented the Church as it is in the present time. The fact that he made the first fishing at the beginning of his preaching, this second one, however, after his resurrection, shows that that haul of fish represented the good and the bad of which the Church is now formed; this instead represents only the good who will definitively form the Church, when, at the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead will be completed. Moreover, in the first catch, Jesus was not, as now, on the seashore, when he ordered to cast the nets for the catch; but when he got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, he asked him to put out a little from the land, then, sitting down, he instructed the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon: Go out to sea and lower your nets for fishing. And the fish that they caught then was collected in the boats, because the nets were not hauled ashore as is now the case. For these signs, and for others that could be found, in that fishing the Church in the present time was represented; in this, however, the Church is depicted as it will be at the end of time. It is for this reason that the first catch was made before the resurrection of the Lord, while this second took place after; because in the first case Christ represented our vocation, in the second our resurrection. In the first fishing the nets are not cast only to the right of the boat, meaning only the good ones, and not even only to the left, meaning only the bad ones. Jesus simply says: let down your nets for fishing, to make us understand that the good and the bad are mixed.

Here instead he specifies: throw the net to the right of the boat, to indicate those who were on the right, that is, only the good ones. In the first case the net tore to indicate the divisions; in the second case, however, since in the supreme fishing of the saints there will be no more divisions, the evangelist was able to point out: although the fish were many - that is, so big - the net was not torn. He seems to allude to the first fishing, when the net was torn, in order to better highlight the positive result of this fishing from the comparison with that. In the first case they caught such a quantity of fish that the two boats, overloaded, sank, that is, they threatened to sink: they did not sink, but we just missed them. Whence come to the Church all the evils that we deplore, if not from the fact that it is not possible to cope with the enormous mass that enters the Church with customs completely foreign to the lives of the saints and which threaten to overwhelm every discipline?

In the second case, however, they threw the net to the right of the boat, and could no longer pull it due to the large amount of fish. What does it mean: they could no longer pull it? It means that those who belong to the resurrection of life, that is, to the right, and end their life in the nets of Christianity, will appear only on the shore, that is, at the end of the world, when they will rise again. For this reason the disciples were unable to pull the net to overturn the fish they had caught into the boat, as was the case with those whose weight the net tore and the boats risked sinking. The Church possesses all these fish which are to the right of the boat, but which remain hidden in the sleep of fishing, as in the depths of the sea, until the end of life, when the net, dragged for a distance of about two hundred cubits, will finally reach the shore.

Even now Jesus continues to act, because He is truly risen, however He asks you to continue to trust even if you cannot see Him, because He acts within you, as long as you confidently entrust yourself to Him, so He can act. But what does it mean to give oneself up to him? It is doing his will. It is an invitation to continue to be capable of a faith that can lead us to abandonment and to the ability to discern his voice.

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