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Mass for Friday of the Octave of Easter: April 17, 2020

Friday of Easter Week

17 April 2020 / Ave Maria Parish Live Stream

Romanus Cessario, O.P.

The Gospels read during Easter Week recount the appearances of the Risen Christ to those who were closest to him. The Risen One shows himself as one manifesting a life that exhibits continuity with his earthly life. In other words, Christ reveals to his disciples that he, body and soul, is truly risen. He appears as neither a ghost nor a vision. At the same time, Christ shows that his new, resurrected life displays a discontinuity with his earthly life. He passes through doors and disappears without making a customary exit.

Today, Christ adds a new dimension to his appearances after the Resurrection. He works a miracle for the disciples who had returned to their habitual occupation. What does the miraculous catch of fish represent? In a word, the fish represent us. Saint Jerome claimed that the Greek zoologists had identified 153 kinds of fish.[1] This exhaustive number represents all of us who have been caught by Christ, all who have been snatched from the thraldom of Satan, all who have been given new life in the Resurrection of the Lord. Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us that the Fathers of the Church teach another lesson. Whereas ordinary fishermen catch fish and kill them for food, the apostles, the fishers of men, take the fish out of the waters of the world in order to keep them safe within the bark or boat that represents the Catholic Church.[2]

New life in Christ means new energy to live a life of Christian virtues. Each of us, even though deprived of the usual sacramental celebrations, though not–thanks be to God and our Bishop–of the sacraments necessary for salvation, should remember that the Risen Christ brings with him new moral strength. Catholics need to grow in love in diverse ways. Whatever virtue you may require to draw close to God, seek that virtue from the Risen Christ, who, as the poet inspires, goes Eastering in us.[3]

[1] See Saint Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel, Bk 14, 47. [2] See Mass, Imposition of the Pallium And Conferral of the Fisherman's Ring For the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry Of the Bishop of Rome, Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI (Sunday, 24 April 2005): “The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin.” [3] See Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”

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