Acts 4:1-12; Ps 118:1,2,4,22-27; Jn 21:1-14
Sometimes people exercise power simply because they can. Sometimes people exercise power simply to serve others. Sometimes people exercise power simply to control others. The leaders, elders, scribes of Jerusalem exercise power in today’s first reading; Saint Peter is called by these powerful men to explain his exercise of power in healing at the Temple Gate. The Risen Jesus uses his power to provide a meal for hesitant disciples on the shore at the Sea of Tiberias.
Saint Peter’s power is evident not only in the healing of the lame; at his interrogation he spoke boldly because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Those who had so much power, those who were leaders in society and in temple, they were powerless to stop the apostles from using the power of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead. That’s the problem isn’t it? These leaders used their power to control, to maintain their influence, yet, they could not stop Saint Peter from performing a good deed done to a cripple. The powerful were powerless to hinder the power of the Name of Jesus; the powerful ones were threatened by the powerless one. One who used power to serve disarmed those who used their power for control. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Saint Peter made it clear that “the stone rejected by you the builders [which] has become the cornerstone.” God is building a whole new power structure in society. The Rejected One has become the Chosen One. The powerless, suffering, executed, Servant of God, Jesus Christ has servants now who continue to offer the lame, and indeed all the powerless people of society-salvation, liberation, power. It is the power of the name of Jesus that empowers those rejected, ignored, and scorned by the powerful leaders of every age in human history.
For whatever reason Simon Peter and his friends return to fishing-a place where they feel comfortable, competent, and powerful. Yet, even in their previous expertise they experience failure; all through the night they caught nothing. Then suddenly as the light of a new day dawns Simon Peter and his crew hear a question from on shore, “children have you caught anything to eat?” Then they hear a command, “cast your net off to the starboard side!” This as yet unrecognized voice of power moves them to action. The results of such obedience are that they caught so many fish that they could not haul the net in. Finally, the Beloved Disciple recognizes the stranger’s voice, and he sends Simon Peter into the water just as he sent him into the empty tomb. The power of the Risen Christ provides a meal for the disciples.
The power of Jesus liberates the lame in the command of Saint Peter; the power of Jesus provides food for those who believe; the power of Jesus is used to serve, not to control. Again at the shore of Tiberias Jesus uses his power to feed the powerless disciples just as he had fed the multitude with the bread and fish after days of listening to his nourishing message. Today, we rejoice and are glad because we obey the power of Jesus’ command, come and eat your meal!