My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST (Part III)
By His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS
One of Christ's appearances to His Disciples happened in the Sea of Tiberias, at the same time when they were fishing in the open water of the lake (St. John 21:1-14). The circumstances and the manner of His appearance will not be given, but some interesting points will be emphasized.
The first is that the Disciples did not recognize Christ, "yet the Disciples did not know that it was Jesus". This is explained by the fact that Christ's appearances are really not simply His presence, but revelations, manifestations. Saint John the Evangelist says clearly: "After these things, Jesus showed Himself again". Christ manifested Himself when He wished. We have many transfigurations and manifestations of Christ before the Resurrection and after it.
Secondly, Christ's manifestation happens according to men's spiritual condition. For after the miraculous catch the first to recognize Him was Saint John, who made it known to Saint Peter, "That Disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Then Peter put on his tunic and plunged into the sea in order to reach Christ more quickly. Here it seems that the beloved Disciple, who is an expression of the vision of God, recognizes Christ, and the repentant Peter, who is still in the state of action, because of his denial and repentance, rushes towards Christ. Saint Gregory Palamas says that John was "readiest compared to the others for spiritual knowledge", while Peter was "most ardent again and readiest for action compared to the others". So Saint John is readiest for the vision of God and Saint Peter is most ardent and readiest for action. Sometimes action precedes and vision follows, and at other times from vision follows action which creates spiritual knowledge.
Thirdly, when the Disciples came to land they saw "a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread". According to Saint Gregory Palamas the "fire of coals" means a kind of leather which wayfarers use for a table. So they see a fish which was not caught in the lake but was created out of nothing, as well as a loaf of bread. The fact that He invited them to taste and He Himself offered to eat shows that He will be the giver and distributor of the future delight, which will be realized after the fishing of the Apostolic net, after the preaching and gathering of all into the True Religion.
After Saint Luke's account of an appearance of Christ to the Disciples, it seems that Christ ate in front of them a part of a fried fish and honey from a honeycomb. To be sure, Christ's Body after the Resurrection did not need food, but Christ did this in order for the Disciples to be assured that He was not a ghost, but had a spiritual and transfigured body. Naturally, since Christ's Body after the Resurrection did not have a digestive system, this food was consumed by the divine energy and was not changed in the way customary in men. Just as fire consumes wax, so also the Divinity of Christ consumed the food which He took. This example is used by accommodation and has not an absolute application, because the fire which melts wax is made of combustible material, while spiritual bodies, are not maintained by nourishment (Saint Gregory Palamas).
The fact that Christ ate part of the fried fish and part of a honeycomb is symbolic sign which points to the mystery of His Person. Human nature is like the fish, which swam in the dampness of the pleasurable and passionate life. Christ assumed this nature, united it to His hypostasis, purified it of every passionate disposition by the fire of Divinity (fried fish) and made it godlike and red-hot, ardent. In the same way, the honeycomb with honey is like our own human nature, because just as honey exists in the honeycomb, so also in our body there is the treasury of reason and, especially in those who have faith, there is the grace of the Holy Spirit in their soul and body. Christ eats of these things because He regards as His food the salvation of each one of us (Saint Gregory Palamas).
Similarly, the use by Christ, after His Resurrection, of the elements of bread and fish shows His Person and His work for the salvation of man. Chiefly it manifests the Mystery (Sacrament) of the divine Eucharist, because in it man is partaking of the living bread and the living fish which is the Godman Christ Himself, Who assumed our own human nature, and because He deified it He is giving himself to us, for us to be deified (theosis) as well. To be sure, deification (theosis) through the mysteries (sacraments), and especially through the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Divine Eucharist, does not happen mechanically and magically, but in accordance with the spiritual state in which we find ourselves. Thus the Mystery (Sacrament) of Divine Communion operates in accordance with our spiritual state. (Source: The Feasts of the Lord)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Divine Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God