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Bible Study

The Appearance to the Seven Disciples

Seven disciples are together in a boat and they are fishing. The number seven is significant because it symbolizes the completed cycle of time.

After hearing Bishop Barron speak in his homily at daily mass this morning; here are some of the key points that he made about the theological richness of today’s Gospel reading from John chapter 21.

In this chapter, seven disciples are together in a boat and they are fishing. The number seven is significant because it symbolizes the completed cycle of time (seven days in a week). We are right now in the octave of Easter, eight, symbolizing what is outside of the completed cycle of time. We are currently participating in the eternal sense of Easter. Furthermore, we are reading about Peter and the others fishing in a boat; the boat represents the Church and fishing alludes to serving (becoming fishers of men/women).

John is known to be the symbol of a mystic and in this chapter he is the first to see and recognize Jesus. In the same gospel, when the disciples are running to the tomb, John is the first to get there, but he waits for Peter who symbolizes the office of the Church to ratify what is seen.

They drag the net ashore and discover it is full with 153 large fish. The speculation of the meaning of this number goes back to ancient times when they thought there were 153 species of fish, so it stands for the universality and totality that the saved are coming from all of the nations of the world. Another speculation from St. Augustine is that the number 153 comes from the sum of the 10 commandments raised up by the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. So adding together all the whole numbers of 1 to 17.

1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12+13+14+15+16+17 = 153

This mathematical combination might be a bit of a stretch or a coincidence but we don’t know!

Watch Daily Mass from Bishop Barron’s chapel premiering daily at 8:15am EST on YouTube from wordonfire.org