At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
Shortly before his death, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago launched “Common Ground.” Distressed by the polarization among Catholics, he believed that people of good will, who agreed on basic Catholic doctrine, even while expressing diverse viewpoints within the Church, could come together and seek to listen to one another.
Today’s first reading reminds me of Cardinal Bernardin’s dream of reconciliation. Centuries ago, Jewish and gentile Christians found themselves disagreeing on how to follow Jesus. Trusting in the Holy Spirit, they prayed, shared their different approaches—and we read the result today.
The Gospel this week also reflects something of the early community’s uncertainty about its future. At the Last Supper, the disciples realize Jesus is about to leave them. They’re troubled and afraid, not knowing how they will survive without him. Jesus assures them that he will send “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” who will teach them and remind them of all Jesus told them. In effect, Jesus is promising that the Church can always rely on the Spirit to guide it in troubled times.
When we face difficulties and even disagreements within the Church, we mustn’t forget what Jesus promises in today’s Gospel: He sends us his Spirit to be our “Advocate” and teacher. The Spirit will help us discover the peace that Jesus gives—a peace the world does not know.