Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41/Revelation 5:11-14/John 21:1-19 Millions work the night shift in care facilities, law enforcement, and businesses around the world. It must be very frustrating for those workers to experience sun rise and a desire to have accomplished more, or recover from an unpleasant episode. Sometimes events even lead to overtime as in the case of the fishermen in today’s gospel. Obeying in order to do it over again after failing all night was the last thing they wanted to do. Not everyone can do the night shift, and thankfully those who adjust their life style of a day culture offer a valuable service.
The contrast between this passage and the gospel is a presentation of those who obey and those who continued to refuse obedience to human law. Strange, isn’t it that these punished preachers rejoiced on their way back to work risking another arrest and its consequences.
Ministry circumstances for many who work for and with others, be it day or night, present the same conflicts for our age. Systems must be adhered to and what appears to be irrational policies in the place of business must be given a higher priority than what a worker wants to do at a given moment. Life for those who knew and walked with Jesus was a constant struggle of doing the right thing and suffering criticism, or doing what was thought to be the right thing and perhaps putting their life on the line.
History is full of many stories of those who obeyed the law to the detriment of others as well as ones who disobeyed civil law and became heroes. Sudden decisions must be made with no guarantee of a desired outcome. It is believed that the apostles who knew Jesus also suffered martyrdom. In small and more significant decisions, we too also risk rejection, be that they are seen in God’s eyes or the legal system we live under.
At a time when abortion, immigration, gun control, and environment, and human rights pieces of legislation are being created, and when our own families and coworkers struggle with the issues and repercussions, it is difficult for us to put our nets out when we are tired and to suffer humiliation because we defend the powerless.
Today, let us rejoice that we have been called by our Baptism to obey God’s law of love and know that a truly Christian community will support us or mourn our loss as we speak out and follow Christ. May God give us the courage to pay the price and may this Easter Season be leaven for moving us toward bolder actions for whatever we can do to build a better world.
Dorothy Maxwell, OP