Acts 5:28-32, 40b-41; Rev. 5:11-14; Jn. 21:1-19
Great difference is seen in the lives of people when they are with God and when they are without God. Old Testament has many examples to put before us. One great example is that of Samson. The bible says the early years of Samson are passed over quickly by the sacredwriter. He “grew, and Jehovah blessed him. And the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him” (Judges 13:25). He did great wonders. He smote the Philistines “hip and thigh” with a “great slaughter.”
The Philistines, who “ruled” Israel in those days (15:11), then put pressure on the Hebrews to surrender Samson to them. The young judge yielded to a plan of sorts, allowing himself to be bound. When confronted by the enemy, however, he broke the bands as if they were a rope of ashes; he seized the fresh (non-brittle) jawbone of a donkey, and therewith eliminated 1,000 of the enemy. God blessed this endeavour (Judges 15).
Samson journeyed to Gaza, one of the Philistine stronghold cities, and consorted with a harlot. The heathen citizens heard of his visit and surrounded the house wherein he lay, determining to capture him at day break. Somehow, Samson slipped through their guard, pulled up the doors of the city gate, and carried them to a place near Hebron, some forty miles away. This was a sharp insult to Gaza (Judges 16:1-3).
But when he fell into sin “Jehovah departed from him” and he became weak physically (16:20). The Philistines captured him, put out his eyes, and cast him into prison (Judges 16:4-27).
Time passed. During a religious celebration, wherein the god Dagon was exalted above Jehovah, Samson prayed to God for the restoration of his former strength. His prayer was answered. He pushed over two mighty pillars of the heathen temple, causing the roof to collapse. Thousands were killed (3,000 were on the roof).
When Saul, the first King of Israel walked in the ways of God he was blessed by God. But when he departed from God, God abandoned him and anointed David in his place.
David too had his dark hours, and felt abandoned and he became weak and powerless without God.
In today’s Gospel we hear the words of Peter, “I am going fishing.” Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were gathered on the shore. Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.'
Though Jesus had appeared to His disciples many times after His resurrection the Apostles failed to experience Jesus. Without Jesus Peter probably felt that his waiting for Jesus was meaningless and he decided to return to his old ways – fishing. But when Peter found Jesus once again we see him as a different man. The first reading present Peter as an extraordinarily bold man.
"In those days, the high priest questioned the apostles, saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us.
But Peter and the Apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than any human beings. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.'
Dear brothers and sisters the same difference we will experience in our lives too when we walk with God and when we walk away from God. Without God life will appear difficult and meaningless.
Many observers of Siberia have described an unsettling phenomenon. The phenomenon has come to be known as “Siberian Hysteria.”
One of the characters in a Japanese novel describes Siberian Hysteria as follows: "Try to imagine this, you’re a farmer, living all alone on the Siberian tundra. Day after day you plow your fields. As far as the eye can see, nothing. To the north, the horizon, to the east, the horizon, to the south, to the west, more of the same. Every morning, when the sun rises in the east, you go out to work in your fields. When it’s directly overhead, you take a break for lunch. When it sinks in the west, you go home to sleep. In the winter they stay home and do indoor work. When spring comes, they head out to the fields again. Anyway, that cycle continues, year after year, and then one day, something inside you dies. Your head becomes completely empty.”
That is our life too without Jesus. As peter felt emptiness we also feel that emptiness. Peter’s emptiness could be wiped out by Jesus only. The presence of Jesus has made him a different man. Jesus knew it very well. Knowing the transformation that took place in the heart of Peter Jesus transferred His authority to him. When Jesus said three times, "Feed My sheep.” He was commissioning Peter to lead the Church that He had instituted on earth.
This is also our mission. But we can achieve it only when we are with Jesus. With the Lord Samson was undefeatable. When Saul was with the Lord, he was the anointed king. When we are with Jesus we will be heroes in our own ways.