3rd Sunday of Easter

First reading: Acts 5:27–32,40b–41

When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

Second reading: Rev. 5:11–14

I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”

The four living creatures answered, “Amen, “and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Gospel: Jn. 21:1–19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. 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.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

In other words Fr. Pio Estepa, SVD (Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City)

In narrating the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Gospel of John grafts a minor story—that of the latent rivalry between Peter and the “beloved disciple.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus declares that one among them at the table will betray him. While Peter discusses with the others clueless about who the traitor will be, Jesus confides the secret to the other disciple (Jn. 13:26).

During the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the gatekeeper of the Temple precincts let that other disciple come in while barring entrance to Peter. The scene enacts what Jesus once said, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens…”(Jn. 10:2-3).

As Jesus agonizes on the cross, Peter is obviously absent while a brave and faithful man stands beside a grieving mother. Before breathing his last, Jesus entrusts Mary to the filial care of that loving disciple (Jn. 19:25-27).

That most sacred day after a sabbath, Peter and that other disciple rush to verify the distressing report of Mary Magdalene that the tomb is empty. Upon finding it to be true, Peter stands nonplussed while the other contemplatively “sees and believes…” (Jn. 20:9).

Today’s Gospel adds one more episode on how the Beloved Disciple is superior in faith to Peter. The latter invites John and five others to go fishing. After a night of matchless toil, someone ashore yells out to them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat…” After a miraculous haul of fish, Peter still fails to recall how similar the whole scene was when Someone called him earlier to fish for people (Lk. 5:10). So the Beloved Disciple cues him, “It is the Lord!”

Yet today’s Gospel also finally resolves the subdued rivalry. Despite the human frailties of Peter, the Risen Christ confirms him anew as the head among “fishers” and “shepherds.” 

Thus, despite being privileged with closer friendship with Jesus, the Beloved Disciple shows wholehearted deference to Peter’s servant leadership.

Are the Beloved Disciple and John the Apostle one and the same person? Or is the title just a literary device to refer to any ideal follower of Christ? The exegetical debate on this question still awaits consensus. In either case, Peter and John (as the more likely one) stand for two vital moments alternating in every Catholic heart. Peter is the systole, and John is the diastole. The one stands for apostolic activity at the service of God’s people, and the other for contemplative communion with the Risen Christ. All ecclesial vitality builds on their complementarity.

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