Three times in today’s Gospel Jesus asks Simon Peter, “Do you love me?” And three times Peter answers, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” Why does Jesus persist in asking this question? Some theologians say that this interaction is in response to Peter denying Jesus three times before his crucifixion. This happens often in Scripture, that there is a foretelling of something to come, or a look back on something that happened. It is interesting to keep this in mind, paying close attention to the Word that is proclaimed each time we gather for the Eucharist.
I love the instruction that Jesus gives to Peter: “Feed my lambs, Tend my sheep, Feed my sheep.” These are words of the Shepherd of God giving instruction to his disciples to care for his flock.
We are a vital and living part of that flock; we are the lambs and the sheep. This conversation took place when Jesus appeared to his disciples for the third time since his Resurrection. The first two times he spoke simply, “Peace be with you.” Now he calls them to action. He gives them responsibility. Not to simply have his peace, but to care for his people. On hearing this Scripture proclaimed, we too, as baptized disciples of Christ are called by the One who loves us to go forth and care for others. We, like the apostles, have a responsibility given by Jesus to love, to serve, to care for the people of God.
So how will you go forth this week? How will you care for God’s people? How will you act upon the Word you heard spoken in this Gospel? Perhaps at home with family as you prepare their meals, help children with homework and pray with them daily. You may tend to the flock in your job or in a retirement community by offering a smile, an act of mercy or kindness toward someone. And let us not forget the responsibility we have to look beyond our immediate family to our world family. How will you tend to those sheep? Perhaps by praying, perhaps by growing in knowledge of the needs of others and perhaps by acting on that knowledge, reaching out to the poor and the oppressed. Perhaps the action you take this week will be more internal, that through prayer and dependence upon God to be with you, you will examine your attitude toward others, especially those of another culture or those you need to forgive. There are many ways to feed and tend the lambs and the sheep.
Let us together thank Jesus for calling upon us to assist in the building up of the Body of Christ. And let us go about our responsibilities with joy in the promise that Jesus Christ is with us always. He is Risen! He is Alive! Let us take that Good News to the World!
In Christ’s love, Deb Rudolph
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC