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Gospel for Sunday, May 1: John 21: 1-23

III Easter C

1After these events, Jesus manifested himself again to the disciples on the Sea of Tiberias. And he showed himself like this: 2Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them: “I am going fishing.” They said to him: “We too are coming with you.” Then they went out and got into the boat; but that night they took nothing. 4When it was already dawn, Jesus showed up on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them: “Children, have you nothing to eat?” They replied: “No.” 6Then he said to them: “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find.” They threw it away and could no longer pick it up due to the large number of fish. 7Then that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter: “It is the Lord!”. Simon Peter as soon as he heard that he was the Lord, he put his coat around his waist, since he was naked, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples instead came with the boat, dragging the net full of fish: in fact they were not far from land except a hundred meters. 9As soon as they landed, they saw a fire of embers with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them: “Bring some of the fish that you just caught.” 11Then Simon Peter got into the boat and brought the net full of one hundred and fifty-three large fish to land. And although there were many, the net did not break. 12Jesus said to them: “Come and eat.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him: “Who are you?”, because they knew well that it was the Lord. 13Then Jesus came near, took the bread and gave it to them, and also the fish. 14This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after being resurrected from the dead. 15When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He replied: “Of course, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him: “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him again: «Simon son of John, do you love me?». She replied: “Of course, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him: “Feed my sheep.” 17He said to him for the third time: “Simon di Giovanni, do you love me?”. Peter was grieved that for the third time he said to him: Do you love me?, and said to him: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you”. Jesus answered him: “Feed my sheep”. 18Truly, I say to you: “when you were younger you put on your own robes and went wherever you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and take you where you do not want”. 19This he said to him to indicate by what death he would glorify God. And having said this he added: “Follow me”. 20Peter then turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them, the one who had found himself at his side at dinner and had asked him: “Lord, who is it that betrays you?”. 21So when Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” 22Jesus answered him: “If I want him to remain until I come, what does that matter to you? You follow me.” 23Therefore the rumor spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. However, Jesus had not told him that he would not die, but: “If I want him to remain until I come, what does it matter to you?”

John 21: 1-23

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

In previous years we have commented on various aspects of this Gospel passage, which is probably the synthesis of two different apparition stories: a) to Peter during a fishing scene (1 Cor 15.4-5; Mt 14.28-33; 16 ,16-19; Luke 5,1-11); b) to the Eleven in a scene of a meal of bread and fish (1 Cor 15.5; Luke 24.36-43; Mc 16.14-18; John 20.19-23).

We had underlined the ecclesial proposal: the boat is the Church, convened by God, ministerial, missionary, one (the net is not “torn”, schizein, hence the word schism: cf. 7.43; 9.16; 10, 19; 19,24), sacramental, universal (153 indicates: a) the totality of fish according to Greek zoology; b) number of perfection, sum of all numbers from 1 to 17; c) 100= the Gentiles + 50=Israel + 3= the Trinity; d) numerical value of qhl’hbh, “the church of love”; d) 76 (value of Sìmon) + 77 (value of ichtys, fish)…).

We had meditated on the apparent contrast between Peter, the figure of the institution, and John, of the prophecy: but in reality “the fourth Gospel stops, leaving in the reader’s mind the diptych of the two disciples, of their different discipleship and of their complementary ecclesial function ” (G. Biguzzi).

Today we want to highlight another great teaching of this passage: knowing how to age according to God.

Jesus says to Peter: “«Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger you put on your own robe and went wherever you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and take you where you do not want.” This he said to him to indicate with what death he would glorify God. And having said this he added: «Follow me» ”(Jn 21,18-19). The elderly must learn to no longer be at the center of everything, to no longer have power, to no longer be the one who makes decisions, to leave room for the new generations. It is often a great experience of poverty.

“Letting go: it is not an easy art, and also the first to be practiced in old age. It is the art of detachment, of knowing how to distance oneself, of accepting that one can no longer hold all the strings in one’s hand… In reality one must be convinced that one can grow old and live finding meaning without remaining until the end clinging to « what was done”… It is an experience of diminutio and also of simplification… Letting go also means practicing accepting the unfinished. It is not an easy exercise, because those who become elderly are convinced that they must complete their work… But “the Lord will complete the work begun in you” (Phil 1.6)” (E. Bianchi).

Cardinal Martini stated: “An Indian proverb tells of four stages of man’s life. The first is the stage in which he learns; the second is that in which one teaches or serves others; in the third one goes into the forest, the deep forest of silence, of reflection, of rethinking… In the fourth stage, particularly significant for Hindu mysticism and asceticism, one learns to beg; going to beg is the pinnacle of ascetic life… And the age in which renouncing one’s possessions means the ability to present oneself with the right hand open, to humbly receive daily bread. Begging means depending on others – something we would never want to happen – and we must prepare ourselves. The time of the forest prepares us, prepares the moment that can happen today, tomorrow or the day after, according to the will of the Lord”. We must learn to follow the Lord even in carrying the cross behind him. But, concludes Cardinal Martini, even when the time comes in which our life depends more and more on others, we should never lose Christian joy, rather become capable of “enjoying this fact…, contemplating more the unity of things”.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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