Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” -John 21:4-7a

Image is the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter on the Sea of Galilee (Tabgha, Israel)

In January 2013, I stood on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha, Israel. Just behind me was the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, traditionally considered to be the place where Jesus appeared to the disciples for the third time after his resurrection.

I looked out at the sea and in my mind’s eye saw Jesus’s disciples in their boat, fishing. Walking along the beach, I was filled with awe as I thought of Jesus cooking breakfast over the charcoal fire on that very same beach. I imagined Jesus calling out to the disciples, instructing them to cast their net to the right side of the boat while he anticipated their response at what they would find. And according to the writer of John’s gospel, it’s at that very moment – when the net that had remained empty all night long was suddenly teeming with fish – that the beloved disciple realizes the man on the beach is Jesus. He doesn’t recognize Jesus by his appearance or by the sound of his voice but rather by the abundance he provides. With complete confidence he immediately proclaims, “It is the Lord!”

As I reflect on my own life, it has often been through the abundant generosity of others that I have recognized Jesus. As a single mother with three young boys, I struggled financially for a number of years, piecing together a few different jobs in an attempt to make ends meet. From time to time, members of our congregation brought us bags of canned goods and clothing that their own sons had outgrown. A young man at the Christmas tree lot sold me a beautiful $30 tree for just $10 because I couldn’t afford the higher price tag, and he had seen it was the tree that my boys were hoping to bring home. The women in my Bible study group gave me a Christmas card filled with a stack of $20 bills so that I could buy presents for my boys.

Time and again throughout my life, Jesus has been revealed to me through the abundant generosity of friends and strangers alike. Where have you recognized Jesus amidst the abundance in your life?  

God of abundance, we give you thanks for all you provide. Give us generous hearts to joyfully share the gifts we have received so that others may know your love. Amen.