by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
This Gospel that we hear today is really sort of a surprise because if you remember last Sunday, that scene in the upper room eight days after Jesus had risen from the dead and he came back and showed Thomas his side and his hands and so on — at the end of all of that, in John’s Gospel, he writes, “There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples, but they’re not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through his name.”
That was the original end of this Gospel of John. It comes to a very decisive conclusion, and we might think, “Well, everything is settled. The disciples know exactly what to do. Jesus has given them a blueprint for how the church is to be, how it’s to function, and so on,” and yet, just the opposite is true. They don’t know what to do; they’re confused. They go back home to their families and then, on this occasion that we hear in this appendix to John’s Gospel, really gives a good description of the way things were. The disciples struggling to know, “Well, what does he want us to do? He’s gone now, he says he’ll be with us, but here we are without any guidance at all.” So they’re struggling, confused, trying to understand what it means to be a community of the disciples of Jesus.
Then in the midst of their confusion and so on, they decide to go back to their regular work. Peter, James and John and some of the others had been people who fish for a living, and then we hear this really extraordinary experience that they have of Jesus….