I remember it very well: After the events with Jesus we were disciples of Jesus late that evening, it was Thomas, Nathaniel, John and James - the sons of Zebedee and two others. We were both friends and work colleagues, namely fishermen at the lake.
We were together, and I said, "Well, you know what, I'm going fishing." I thought this is something I can do and it just makes sense to work properly. And the other six said, "Yeah, you're right, we'll come along too." And we worked all night long and fished - we fished - nothing, again and again we let the net into the water at other places - and always it was empty - all the effort in vain. As often as we pulled up the net, always nothing.
Sadness, helplessness, frustration and tiredness spread.
And then, at dawn, someone stood on the bank and asked if we had a fish to eat. That's all we needed, someone begging us. So the answer was short: "No."
And then this man on the bank dares to tell us, such experienced fishermen:
"Go back to the lake and cast your net."
It's crazy, if you don't catch anything in the dark of the night, then even less so as soon as it starts to get light.
I don't know what it was that drove me, we just had to do it, despite the increasing sunrise, turn around, go out on the lake and throw the nets.
And it was unbelievable, we had hardly let the net down, we felt its heaviness and knew it was full. We couldn't even pull it into the boat, it was so heavy. I thought it would break any moment and then our catch was gone again.
Then suddenly John said beside me, "The man on the bank, that's Jesus, the Lord!" Incredibly, the youngest among us, John, who felt especially loved by Jesus, he recognized him with his heart, he said, "HE is the one!
And I felt I had to go to him, spontaneously as I so often was. But I didn't want to meet him in my nakedness, we were fishing at night, for simplicity's sake, all naked. Yes, I didn't want to meet him naked now, so I quickly put on my overgarment and jumped into the lake and swam to the shore.
Jesus stood on the bank, but now a coal fire was burning with bread and fish.
Where this suddenly came from, I do not know to this day.
Anyway, Jesus said, "Come and eat." And then Jesus took the freshly baked bread and the good fish and shared it with us. None of us dared to ask, "Who are you?" For we all knew at once: It is the Lord.
So this meeting at the lake was the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to us as the Risen One.
But then something else happened. Jesus turned to me, he looked at me, and then I felt, he saw, my nakedness that I tried to hide from him, he saw my pain about the three times I denied myself at the coal fire before his execution, he saw my longing for him whom I loved.
In his gaze I saw all this and an infinite love. He looked at me and then said three times very solemnly: Simon, son of John, do you love me? And although a deep pain went through my heart, I experienced, yes I am acquitted. The feeling of being naked and deeply ashamed was gone. I answered with tears, "You know I love you."
Then his words: "Follow me and be a good shepherd, care for people as a shepherd cares for sheep.
There was no reproach, there was deep forgiveness and peace, trust and friendship, deeper than ever before.
Sister Elisabeth Hofmann