Now, the apostles were at home in Galilee; the women tarried in Judea until the Pentecost. And Peter, James and John, and Andrew, Philip and Nathaniel were in Capernaum. They joined with Jonah and with Zebedee, and in their boats went out to fish. They toiled all night and when the morning came they had no fish.
And as they neared the shore a man stood on the shore and said, How many fish have you? And Peter answered, None. Again the man called out and said, A school of fish is passing now upon the right side of your boat; cast out your net. They cast their net, and it was filled; and John exclaimed, It is the Lord who stands upon the shore. And Peter plunged into the sea and swam to shore. The other men brought in the net, and it contained a hundred fifty and three fish and yet it did not break.
And Jesus said, My children, let us break our fast together here. They found some living coals upon the beach and Peter brought and dressed the fish; they had some bread. And when the meal had been prepared they broke their fast, and Jesus ate of both the fish and bread. (Aquarian Gospel 179:1-11)
Jesus had called these apostles away from the fishing profession and they had become vegetarians like him and all Essenes. Yet, in the confusion that followed Jesus’ crucifixion and the reluctance to accept his resurrection, “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately” (John 21:3). So they had gone back to the nets from which Jesus had called them. Yet, Jesus spoke kindly to them, calling them “children,” and he even ate some of the fish to show them that he was not displeased with them and that he did indeed have a real body that could eat and digest.
Now, after breakfast all the men were sitting on the beach, and Jesus said to Peter, Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and do you love your neighbor as you love yourself? And Peter said, Yea, Lord, I love the Lord my God with all my heart; I love my neighbor as I love myself. And Jesus said, Then feed my sheep.
And then he said to James, Do you love her, the Holy Breath, with all your heart, and do you love your neighbor as you love yourself? And James replied, Yea, Lord, I love the Holy Breath with all my heart; I love my neighbor as I love myself. Then Jesus said, Protect my sheep.
And then he said to John, Do you love Christ, the love divine made manifest, with all your heart, and do you love your neighbor as you love yourself? And John replied, Yea, Lord, I love the Christ with all my heart; I love my neighbor as I love myself. And Jesus said, Then feed my lambs. (Aquarian Gospel 179:12-20)
It was necessary for Peter, James and John to affirm their determination to return to their former way of life and discipline, so Jesus questioned them as to their love for God and told them their future obligations in demonstrating that love. The questions are interesting, though all three are asked if they love their neighbor as they love themselves.
Love is the keynote of all. Jesus asks Peter if he loves God (the Father) will all his heart, and the charge is to feed the Lord’s sheep. He asks James if he loves the Holy Spirit, and the charge is to protect the sheep. Then he asks John if he loves the Christ, and the charge is to feed the lambs. What does this all mean? Peter is to show the love of the Father by leading and teaching the sheep of the Church. James is to closely supervise and protect them as the administrator of the first Christian community in Jerusalem. John is to lead and teach the lambs.
What is the difference between Peter’s obligation and that of John? The sheep which Peter is to look after are the Christians living an ordinary life as family members. The lambs are the virgins, the monastics, who were especially under the care of John. From the very first there was a distinction made in the Church between those living the usual way of life and those who were living a life of total consecration as monastics in isolated communities in both Israel and Egypt. In the same way, many centuries later the great Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov, established two kinds of convents: one for women who had been married before taking up the monastic life and one for women who had never been married. By doing this he indicated that the two differed markedly in their mental and spiritual character and he felt they would fare better if they were not mixed together. Those who had been married were “sheep” and those who had not been married were “lambs.”
Then Jesus rose and said to Peter, Follow me. And Peter followed him. When Peter saw that John was following him he said to Jesus, Lord, behold, John follows you! What shall he do? Now Peter did not hear the master when he said to John, Then feed my lambs. And Jesus spoke to Peter and he said, It matters not to you what John shall do; not even though I will that he remain until I come again. Just do your duty; follow me. And Jesus passed, they knew not where he went. (Aquarian Gospel 179:21-26)
Just do your duty; follow me. It was a failing of Peter to always be asking what others should do, rather than just doing his duty and following Jesus as he knew to do. It is the same with us. One of the most vicious and destructive habits of human beings is gossip and comment on what other spiritual people are doing. I have seen people’s spiritual life destroyed by either engaging in this kind of talk or of hearing it and losing spiritual confidence in their teachers and leaders. And most of what is said is either either negative speculation or outright lies. In At the Feet of the Master, the following invaluable advice is given about this awful vice.
“Three sins there are which work more harm than all else in the world–gossip, cruelty, and superstition–because they are sins against love. Against these three the man who would fill his heart with the love of God must watch ceaselessly.
“See what gossip does. It begins with evil thought, and that in itself is a crime. For in everyone and in everything there is good; in everyone and in everything there is evil. Either of these we can strengthen by thinking of it, and in this way we can help or hinder evolution; we can do the will of the Logos or we can resist Him. If you think of the evil in another, you are doing at the same time three wicked things:
“(1) You are filling your neighbourhood with evil thought instead of with good thought, and so you are adding to the sorrow of the world.
“(2) If there is in that man the evil which you think, you are strengthening it and feeding it; and so you are making your brother worse instead of better. But generally the evil is not there, and you have only fancied it; and then your wicked thought tempts your brother to do wrong, for if he is not yet perfect you may make him that which you have thought him.
“(3) You fill your own mind with evil thoughts instead of good; and so you hinder your own growth, and make yourself, for those who can see, an ugly and painful object instead of a beautiful and lovable one.
“Not content with having done all this harm to himself and to his victim, the gossip tries with all his might to make other men partners in his crime. Eagerly he tells his wicked tale to them, hoping that they will believe it; and then they join with him in pouring evil thought upon the poor sufferer. And this goes on day after day, and is done not by one man but by thousands. Do you begin to see how base, how terrible a sin this is? You must avoid it altogether. Never speak ill of any one; refuse to listen when any one else speaks ill of another, but gently say: ‘Perhaps this is not true, and even if it is, it is kinder not to speak of it.’”
The news soon spread through all Capernaum that Jesus had risen from the dead, that he had walked with his disciples by the sea and ate with them the morning meal. The multitudes came forth to see. Now Peter, James and John, together with the other men who had been called to be apostles of the Lord, went to the mountains near Capernaum to pray. And as they prayed the master came; they saw him and they talked with him. He said to them, The Pentecost is near at hand; go to Jerusalem and I will meet you there. And as he talked, a multitude of people came; they saw the Lord; they said, Behold, for now we know that he, the Nazarene, has risen from the dead for we have seen him face to face. (Aquarian Gospel 179:27-32)
According to Saint Paul: “He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once” (I Corinthians 15:6). So there was abundant witness to the resurrection of Jesus.