Sizzling bacon. Fresh orange juice. Crisp toast covered in butter or jelly. Chocolate covered, glazed, or cake donuts. These are images that pop into my mind whenever the words “breakfast” and “Sunday mornings” are uttered in the same sentence. Besides the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, the reason I bring this topic up is because I was reading through John’s Gospel and I came across a peculiar event that I never truly paid attention to—Jesus grilling!
According to John 21:1-14, Jesus appeared to the apostles at the Sea of Tiberias and he is watching them fish. Whether the fourth gospel writer intended to or not I think it is interesting that the miracle of the great catch of fish mirrors a similar miraculous haul in Luke 5:1-11. The major difference in John’s version is that Peter and the other disciples do not initially recognize Jesus whereas in Luke’s account the apostles were already chosen by Jesus.
I believe Jesus’ post-Resurrection miracle in John is a perfected version of the Lucan fish phenomenon because according to Luke 5:6 the apostles nets started to tear in contrast to John 21:11 which states, “So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.”
Upon the apostles arrival at the shore, Jesus says, “Come, have breakfast (John 21:12). With these words the apostles recognized the identity of Jesus. Along with the fish, Jesus took the bread and gave it to them as well. Together with the Emmaus episode in Luke 24:13-35 the taking of bread is a sign of the celebration of the Eucharist!
I re-read the previous verses about the number of fish being caught—153—and discovered according to the commentary that this number of 153 is likely meant to symbolize the apostles’ universal mission. The reason for this is because St. Jerome claimed that Greek zoologists catalogued 153 species of fish—John symbolizes fish for men! Another awesome realization is that we are called to bring lapsed Catholics and even non-Catholics to Christ. The apostles in their catch of 153 types of fish represent bringing all kinds of men to Jesus. It is not until we reconcile ourselves with the rest of humanity that we may partake of the Eucharistic food [just like how after the apostles symbolically achieved the haul of humanity were they invited to morning meal before Jesus].
God appears to us in peculiar ways so the next time I am eating breakfast on Sunday morning, maybe I will suggest grilled fish to my wife [we recently bought an outdoor grill]! Be always open to God’s plan no matter how fishy it sounds…or smells.