Sunday, January 18, 2009
Feed my sheep
He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. John 21:17
Some times we all wish we were constructed differently, with a different set of skills and experience, with a different income or capacity, or a simply a different body type. Some people wish they had a bigger family and some wish for less. Whomever we are, we have so how dreamed of being someone different, if but for a moment. But we are who we are and many people spend a life time accepting who they are. Some of us think by retraining and brute will we can change ourselves radically. But in the end, we are who we are, a gift from God, just like we are. Quirky and complicated, needy and loving, we all are both a gift from God and aching for understanding. We all need to know our place and what we are good for.
Peter and Jesus are finishing up breakfast. Peter wants a profound answer from Jesus about continuing ministry after Jesus' final departure. He want dreams and vision. What he gets is an all too simple answer. Feed my sheep. Love me, feed my sheep. Tend the ones I send you, love them like your own. Simple and yet as challenging as it is profound. God's mystery is not always revealed in complicated theological statements but in the daily task, the simple tending and feeding. The compassionate love of the tender shepherd. We are often wandering sheep, and yet God constantly calls us back and mends our wounds. We are fed over and over, watched and guided, even when we think the shepherd is out of sight. Peter wanted a lofty answer perhaps but what he got was a simple feed my sheep. We want lofty answers or different circumstances but the answer we get is right where we are. Feed my sheep, right here.
May today I have the courage to tend the sheep right here and not look for a different field or a different flock, Right here, may I feed his sheep, because I am being fed right where I am, just as I am, gifted and challenged all at once. May we all be caretakers of the flocks in front of us, even if they seem peculiar and not like the other sheep. May we live Christ's compassion in this world, tending and feeding, knowing that God will transform the hearts and minds of us all.