Catching Fish with the Apostles

The Gospel for the third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013, is John 21: 1-19 (the short form is John 21: 1-14). This passage recounts the beautiful and touching story of the disciples fishing, after the Resurrection, and not catching anything. Their nets initially came up empty. Then they see Jesus, although they do not recognize him. He tells them to go back out and cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They follow His instruction, and their nets fill to overflowing with fish. Then Jesus eats fish and bread with them before asking Simon Peter three times if he loves Him. Simon Peter tells Jesus he does love Him, and Jesus asks him to feed His sheep. I love this story!

An idea I heard several years ago was to read this Gospel passage as a family during the week before going to Mass on Sunday. After reading John 21: 1-19 there are several questions that could be discussed as a family. Some of these questions might be:

  • Why do you think the disciples initially did not recognize Jesus?
  • Why did Christ eat breakfast with them?
  • Why did they only recognize Jesus after they caught all the fish and were about to eat breakfast with Him?
  • Why do you think Jesus asked Simon Peter three times if he loved Him?
  • What did Christ ask Simon Peter to do?
  • Who are the sheep Jesus speaks of when he tells Simon Peter to feed His sheep?
Fish "caught in the nets" of the apostles

Fish “caught in the nets” of the apostles

A fun and yummy activity to do after reading and discussing the Gospel is to make fish “caught in nets” as a snack. I saw this idea mentioned on several years ago and just loved it! A good idea is to use square pretzels (they actually look like little nets), Hershey kisses, and Goldfish. Melt the Hershey kisses onto the pretzels in the microwave for only a few seconds, then add Goldfish on top of the Hershey kiss on the net. You have caught a fish in your net!

I bought a cheap blue plastic platter at Wal-Mart to display our fish in the nets (blue for the ocean water).

One idea is to put empty “nets” (square pretzels with nothing on them) on the left side of the platter or serving dish, and full “nets” of fish (pretzels with Hershey kisses and Goldfish) on the right side of the platter to symbolize when Christ told the disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the boat.

Then you can discuss the symbolism with your children as you refer to the Gospel passage, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” -John 21:6

This is a tasty treat for kids and a great way to get the Gospel to “stick” in their precious minds!

You can also use this idea for the feast day of St. James the Greater (July 25) since he was a fisherman. As you can see by the photo above, I added cockle shells and Swedish fish into the mix (the symbol for St. James is the cockle shell).

May God bless you during this Easter Season. Jesus has risen! Alleluia!


  1. You are always so upbeat, Margaret. It’s so great to see how to make things more pleasing to kids … beauty brings everyone to goodness and truth! I just learned that! 🙂

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