I love this story of “the braai on the beach”. I think it helps us to see how God works in our lives. There is the experience of the extraordinary in the ordinary. For Peter and the others the most ordinary thing was to go fishing. They were all seasoned fishermen. For them fishing was like an ordinary day at the office. Jesus meets them on a difficult day in their ordinary lives. They are disillusioned. All they had done in the last three years seems to have evaporated. But they have not caught anything – rather like that day long before, when he called them, when Jesus first asked if they had caught anything.
And in the midst of this incredible catch of fish and Peter’s recognition of Jesus, Jesus’s invitation is, on the face of it, very ordinary. He invites them to “come and have breakfast”. Jesus connects with us where we find ourselves, practically, emotionally and spiritually. He finds the disciples at their ordinary work, probably feeling lost and disillusioned and without a clear way forward. He finds us where we are but does not leave us there.
Peter and the others were going back to the old and the familiar. They had lost the sense of purpose that they had experienced when they had been called to become “fishers of people”. But Jesus invites them to “the magis” (which means “the more”) as we say in Ignatian Spirituality. “The more” can be symbolised in the catch of fish, a catch that reminds one most strongly of that earlier catch of fish; but also of the changing of water into an abundance of wine and the multiplication of the loaves and fish.
I wonder what the conversation was that morning over the braaied fish. Later in the text we do overhear the conversation Jesus had with Peter about whether he loves him and the request to feed his lambs and sheep. It is a pivotal moment of Peter’s commissioning.
What about the others? They were all just beginning to come to terms with the reality of the resurrection. And, perhaps in the conversation, there is a slow dawning of what the implications are for them. Life will never be the same. They could go back to fishing, but never in the same way. What they know means that they are witnesses to something so great that the way that they approach life is forever changed.
For us too, we have been with Jesus through his passion and we have met him in the resurrection. Our lives too cannot go back to where they were before. For most of us the experience of Easter is the call to live contemplatively in action. It means that we engage in the ordinary and the everyday from a new awareness.
That reality is “I have met the Lord”.
Without doubt, that awareness moves us out to engage in some kind of mission or ministry. It might be a call to something new, or to do what we are already doing but to do it differently. To be listening for where Jesus is asking us to throw the net in the midst of our ordinary activities. May we be willing to have that conversation with Jesus and hear his invitation to us to “the more” this Easter.