IT IS THE LORD! The Heart of the Matter As A Matter of the Heart

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Spiritual Reflections by Fr Roderick Salazar SVD

The heart of the matter of life and love
is really a matter of the heart.
By this we know where the Lord is.
By this we can say, ”IT IS THE LORD.”

We consider an incident in John 21.

The setting is the Lake of Tiberias (or Galilee).
The time is after the Resurrection of Jesus.

As Preface to the story, we need to remember
that on the third day after He died in Calvary,
Jesus rose from the dead in a new form.
So new that Mary Magdalene who was very close
to Him and who should have immediately
recognized Him did not – thinking Him to be
a gardener.

But when He called her name, there must have
been something in the way He said it that Mary
knew that though the physical features were no
longer the same as before He died, it was He
facing her – Jesus. Resurrected. Christ. The Lord.

Jesus then tells Mary to tell Peter and the other
disciples to go to Galilee where He would meet them.

To appreciate this command, it is good to know
the geography of the land of Palestine in the time
of Jesus. There were three main parts: 
GALILEE in the north. JUDEA in the south
SAMARIA in between the two.

Nazareth and Cana and the Lake were in Galilee.
Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Calvary were in Judea.
To go from one province to the other one had
simply to walk. So the command of Jesus to Mary
entailed the apostles journeying from Jerusalem
in Judea to the province in the north, Galilee.

We are now in John, Chapter 21.
Some of the apostles, as we know, were fishermen.
Simon Peter was and so were James and John.
They knew where, when, and how to catch fish.
But that particular night when they were on the Lake,
it was already past midnight, even nearing dawn
but still they had caught NOTHING.

Towards daybreak but still dark, they faintly see
someone on shore ONE HUNRED YARDS AWAY.
The stranger on the shore is actually Jesus, but the
apostles don’t know it, don’t even recognize him.

The stranger shouts, “Children, have you caught any fish?”
They shout back that they had not, so the voice tells them
to cast their nets on the right side of their boat.
When they do, lo and behold such a huge catch of fish
do they haul that the nets are near to breaking.

Seeing this, John gasps, “IT IS THE LORD.”
and Simon Peter hurriedly puts on his clothes (for he
was naked up till then) dives into the water and 
swims to shore towards Jesus.

(Strange act, Simon Peter’s. Normally, one takes OFF
one’s clothes when diving into the sea. But he puts 
his clothes ON. Why? Ah, a point to ponder. For now
we leave Simon splashing his way to Jesus on shore.)

Meantime I ask: How could John conclude and say
IT IS THE LORD, when it was still dark, and the
distance between boat and shore was a hundred yards?
The length of a YARD is THRE FEET.

Imagine from where you are what that distance is.
Would you be able to recognize someone that far from
you in pre-dawn darkness? No? But John did. How?

My conclusion: A MATTER OF THE HEART.

John, we recall, is called “the Beloved Disciple”.
At the Last Supper, he leans on the breast of Jesus.
Close enough to feel the beating of the heart.
On Calvary, he is the only Apostle left standing at
the foot of the cross, with Mary, the mother of Jesus
and the other women disciples. At the start of the public
life of Jesus, John is one of two who follow Him first,
asking, “Lord, where do you live?”

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
A little story to explain. 
There was once a teacher who asked his students, 
“How do we know when night has ended 
and day has begun?”

One of them says, “When I can distinguish my field 
from the field of my neighbor.” The teacher smiles.
Another student says, “When I look in the distance 
and can distinguish between a dog and a sheep.”
The teacher shook his head.

A great discussion broke out among the students.
“What about when you can tell the difference between
the mist and the clouds, between your house and your
neighbor’s house?”

On and on the students went and the teacher’s face
grew sober. Finally, he lifted up his hand and cried
out, “Stop! Do you know what you are doing? You
are dividing the world between this and that, 
between what is yours and what is not yours, 
between neighbors and strangers.”

The students grew silent and one of them asked,
“Then, teacher, how shall we know 
when night has ended and day has begun?”

The teacher said, “You are dividing our broken, 
fragmented world into even more pieces. 
When you stop dividing, then you will be able 
to look into the eyes of another human being. 
When you see there a brother or a sister, or a
fellow human being, THEN you will know that 
DAY HAS COME. If you cannot see a brother 
or a sister, IT WILL ALWAYS BE NIGHT.”

How could John in our Gospel scene say, from
one hundred yards away, “It is the LORD”
unless for him day had come; unless he knew in
his heart that IT WAS THE LORD. 

It was a matter of the heart.

We learn from John. Know where Jesus lives.
We should want to know. We must pray. Know
what He said and did. 

We will have problems our whole life long.  
We will not always know if it is day or it is 
night because of our pain or heartbreak.

But by God’s grace, we shall know.
In God’s time. In God’s way.
It is a matter of the heart.
Life and love. Our heart. God’s Heart.

Then, whether it is day or it is night
We will know:

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