Psalm 118 features prominently in the liturgies of Easter. It is a psalm of thanksgiving that has three distinct parts. It begins with an invitation to praise God, an invocation calling upon the people of Israel to give thanks. The second part is a declaration of thanks for God’s intervention in a time of peril, perhaps by a king who has been threatened by an invading army. The final section is the actual praise itself, a praise that is motivated by God’s saving power.
The Church sees in this psalm a perfect way to give thanks and praise to God for the gift we have in Jesus’ redemptive death. Jesus has become the rejected stone which has become a cornerstone upon which the Church is built. Peter uses this image to confound the powers that would ask him to cease using and praising the name of Jesus to thank God for his sacrifice.
The Gospel presents us with the other side of the coin. The apostles had been commissioned by Jesus to go forth and preach the Good News. What are they doing in their fishing boats again? Why have they returned to their former occupation? So this chapter of St. John’s Gospel can be seen as a gentle nudge by Jesus to forget their boats and their nets and to get on with the work of sharing the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice.
The message from both readings today underscores our own responsibilities in answering the call of Jesus to live as his faithful disciples. We too sometimes slip into our former way of life. Perhaps we tire of the work. Perhaps we find change to difficult. Notice that Jesus reminds the disciples of their responsibilities by feeding them on the seashore. He feeds us as well at this table. In the meal we find the strength to do what has been asked of us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator