February 27 – Feed My Sheep

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 27 – Feed My Sheep

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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 21:15-17).

When Peter denied knowing Jesus before the crucifixion, he tossed away the opportunity to lead the church.  No one would trust him again if he didn't even have the strength to admit that he was part of Jesus’ community to those who had to have seen him traveling with the Lord on a regular basis.  He was a failure.

This is the same man, who in Matthew 26:33, announced that if everyone else fell away, he would never do so; and who in Matthew 16 declared that Jesus was the Son of the Living God and then to whom Jesus said,

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).

Peter was finished. He had no hope of ever being accepted by his peers or those whom he would have led.  He had lost his own faith. It was over.

This is the truth of the Gospel … the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is never over.  We are never finished.  Hope is never truly lost.

The risen Jesus stood in front of Peter and restored Him fully. And what was the foundation of that restoration?

Jesus didn't ask Peter to do penance or to write a missive declaring his sins and begging for forgiveness. He didn't ask Peter to spend time with each of the other disciples pleading with them to forgive him, admitting his failure and defeat.

Jesus reminded Peter of the one thing that would connect him to his friends, those whom he would soon care for and the Lord.  That one thing was love.  That’s all Jesus wanted from Peter for restoration.  His acknowledgement of pure, unadulterated love.

No matter what we do and then, no matter how the world demands we restore ourselves to its measure; all Jesus Christ asks of us is that we say, “I love you.”

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“Lord, you know that I do.”

“Feed my sheep.”