At the last supper, Jesus referred to his apostles as “friends”, other times in St. John’s Gospel, he called them disciples—students. In the many “I AM” statements of John’s Gospel, Jesus said, I AM the vine, you are the branches, I am the good shepherd, you are the sheep. In this morning’s Gospel, he doesn’t call them friends, disciples, apostles, or sheep, he calls them, “children”: “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” The greek word, Jesus uses is paidia—little boys, boys who are still learning how to be men. One greek dictionary says: a child requiring training through strict oversight, emphasizing their ongoing development necessary to reach their highest destiny.
Perhaps, Jesus called them little boys because they had run away from mature Christian living, mature faith. After all, this was the third time Jesus had appeared to them and they still didn’t recognize him initially; they had been tasked with being fishers of men, and they had gone back to regular fishing—they still hadn’t embraced their new identity. They had been made priests, bishops, witnesses of the resurrection, exorcists, healers, and they go back to their old way of life..oh, they still required training, learning. And so do we.
“Children, have you caught anything?” That question is directed to all of us, tasked with the spread of the Gospel. Have you caught anything? Have you brought any souls into the boat of the Church? Have you shared the good news of the resurrection with anyone?
Peter, James, and John were first called to follow Jesus while fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and, as we heard this morning, after the resurrection, Jesus calls them once again. Easter time is always a time of renewal for the whole Church, where we refocus on our task of spreading the good news. Jesus wants to make a miraculous catch of souls through us. Who will be this fall’s RCIA class? Each of us do well to get some souls in our sights, focus your prayers, your fasting, your preaching on one or two souls, and over the next couple months, reach out to them, invite them, minister to them, share with them words of challenge and words of comfort, treat them as your spiritual children requiring strict attention. They could be unbaptized adults, never having stepped foot in a church, they could be adult children who spent 12 years in Catholic school but who have fallen away from the faith, they could be someone struggling with addiction, or some serious sin; walk with them, share with them, instruct them.
May these Easter days fill us with new inspiration and new fervor for the spread of the Gospel, a maturing of Christian faith and freedom from fear, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.