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August 25, 2019

Homily on the Tenth Eothinon Gospel - John 21:1-14

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Today's Eothinon Gospel that was read in the Matins Service refers to the third appearance of Christ to His disciples, as presented by the Evangelist John. The first appearance was in the evening of the first day, the second appearance was the following Sunday when Thomas was also present, and the third appearance is what we read today along the shore of the Sea of Tiberius.

A group of disciples, specifically seven disciples, went fishing. The disciples however were unable to catch any fish, even though they were there all night. Then at dawn, Christ appeared on land and asked them if they had anything to eat. When they responded in the negative, He urged them to drop their nets on the right side of the ship. Obeying this they caught many fish, which they later counted to be one hundred and fifty-three. With this they understood that the man was Christ. This is an incident that shows Christ manifesting Himself. We can say it was a small transfiguration. The first to understand was John, who told it to Peter who in turn wrapped his outer garment around himself and began to swim in the water to meet Christ.

Much can be highlighted in this wondrous resurrection account. But due to the limited time of this morning sermon allow me to emphasize three brief points.

First, even though the disciples had seen Christ while He lived, here they did not recognize Him as He sat on the land. This shows us that the knowledge and recognition of Christ is a matter of a revelation experience and not one of the external senses. God reveals Himself to people. At times it keeps people's minds away from perceiving Him, and at times it illuminates them to gain empirical knowledge, and this, of course, depends on the spiritual condition of the people. Thus, some regard Him as a common man and others as the true God.

The second is that Christ, as God, rules creation. He sees everything, where the fish are, where the animals are. He not only rules the world but also animates it. Everything obeys His commands and His words. Unfortunately, people often fail to obey His commandments, precisely because they have the freedom to be distressed, to be tormented, to suffer, and to be in pain. The disciples were distressed all night without the presence of Christ, but they obeyed Christ and they were blessed richly.

The third point is that John, who is an expression of theoria (divine vision), was first to recognize Christ, and then Peter, who is an expression of praxis (action), who with his zeal, hastened to meet Him. Love for Christ is very important and everything else follows. Of course, the spirited part of the soul must apply the will of Christ, to strive so that one can come to Christ. For if one has only love, but does not live up to what Christ says, then one cannot fulfill their desire and their love. Only then can someone claim to co-exist with Christ.

And because this sermon is taking place during the Divine Liturgy, it must be said that this incident teaches us that our love for Christ is mainly expressed by actions and the effort to observe the will of God and to participate in the Divine Eucharist every Sunday. Some say they love Christ, but they do not attend church. How then will we express our love? Christ co-exists with those who love Him and are willing to meet him at the Divine Eucharist.

So every Sunday, then, there is a meeting with the Risen Christ in the Divine Eucharist. If this is not the case then Sunday has no meaning.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.