3rd Sunday of Easter (Ages 3-6): Joy of the Risen Life

(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection. This reflection covers the first 13 verses only.)


John 21.1-19


This Sunday we celebrate the third Sunday of Easter. There will be seven Sundays altogether to celebrate this great feast—the feast of Jesus rising from the dead, so full of the Risen Life of God that he can never die again. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, we learn something more about the Risen life.

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.

Jesus is already Risen from the dead when he shows himself to the disciples. We understand that Jesus' Risen life is not the same as his old life. Before he died, he did not have to show himself to the disciples. They could walk with him and talk with him—he was with them all the time. What about now? Has Jesus left them alone?



Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’

Jesus is already Risen from the dead, but Simon Peter and the other disciples do not seem to be celebrating. Instead, they are fishing. They like fishing, but they do not seem to be filled with joy. They were filled with joy when they first saw Jesus alive, never to die again, but not now. Perhaps they think Jesus has left them alone.

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Now the disciples fish all night long, but do not catch anything in their fishing net. Where are all the fish? The waters are empty. There is nothing there. There does not seem to be any life in the lake.

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Why do the disciples not know who Jesus is? Perhaps they cannot see very well.

Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’

This is interesting. Jesus calls the disciples "children." Are the disciples children? Maybe. Maybe children can be disciples of Jesus, too.

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.
Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

So many fish?! Where did all these fish come from? Before, the waters seemed empty of all life; now, there is so much life—abundant life. Their net is so full of life, they cannot even pull it into the boat! What has happened? Who has made this great change?

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’

How does the disciple know Jesus is the Lord? Before, the disciple could not see; now, the disciple knows. Who has made this change? What has the disciple seen?


Where there was no life, now there is abundant life.

Perhaps the disciple remembers Jesus' words.

In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus says,


I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.


When Simon Peter hears this news, what does he do?

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake.

Simon Peter has been working naked in the boat. It has been very hot all night long and it has been dark. It probably felt cooler not to wear any clothes. But when Simon Peter hears that it is the Lord on the beach, he puts his clothes on and jumps into the water! What happens to his clothes when he jumps into the water? They get all wet, of course! When Simon Peter knows the Lord is near, he does not get dressed and wait in the boat. When he knows that the Lord is near, he does not carry his clothes over his head so that they do not get wet. Nope. He jumps into the water in his clothes! This is funny!

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Why does Simon Peter do this funny thing? He knows the Lord is near. Now, he is full of joy! Joy comes when the Lord is near and sometimes joy makes us do some funny things!

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

Just as the Good Shepherd feeds his sheep, Jesus feeds the disciples breakfast. No one asks, who are you, because they know.

They know that Jesus is the Lord.

They know that Jesus, full of the Risen Life, gives life abundantly.

They know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, never leaves his sheep alone.

Now they are filled with joy, because they know that even when they do not see him, the Risen Jesus will always be with them.

What about us? What do we know? Is the Risen Jesus always with us, too? We celebrate in joy!

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