Summary: Where we are called to and what we are called to do sometimes contradicts what we want to do.
The Lord Be With You.
I usually start with a parable or a short story …
There once was a stubborn old farmer who had two small fields. One was the standard field that sat in the sun, soaking up the rays, while the other was in an area that was blocked by a very large castle, forever without the sun. It was suggested that the farmer plant fruit trees there where the height of those trees would rise above the castle shade to reach the sun but the farmer refused because he was afraid of what the castle owner would say or think. The other field, the one in the sun, always produced a great amount of crops while the one in the shade always saw its crops wither and die. Then one day the castle owner met up with this farmer and asked him why he didn’t plant trees so that the amount of his two fields would be worth more since they would both be producing good crops. The old farmer was surprised by this and told the castle owner what he thought he would think. The castle owner then said to the old farmer, “Why do you assume how I would think or react to something you found to be worthy. You’re discounting your value when you don’t do something that’s good because you’re afraid of something which you have no basis for believing will be bad.”
Here ends the parable.
Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” “Feed my lambs.” He didn’t say, “If you think those you come across are hungry, feed them.” He said, “Tend my sheep.” They’re all hungry and need looking after. He didn’t say, “If you feel comfortable with my message, feed them.” He said, “Feed my sheep.” They’re all waiting for His message. He didn’t say, “Feed only the chosen sheep.” He used the imperative adjective denoting ownership, feed MY sheep. ALL the sheep are hungry and ALL the sheep are chosen.
The problem is that the very nature of the message of Christ is uncomfortable because it calls each of us to love God with all our hearts, our souls, our body, our minds. It doesn’t allow for ideologies that elevate humankind above that which God has already divined. It doesn’t allow for the current social trends to become the new norm. The problem is that many do not see themselves as chosen By God through Jesus the Christ because most people have an innate sense that they’re outside the purity of the very God who has asked that they be IN His presence and has given His only Son to ensure that that very thing WILL happen. And the problem is that most people don’t know they’re hungry until it’s too late and they’re on the brink of starvation. Not the physical hunger of starvation per se. Not the hunger that ALLOWS us to look at what we’ve done and continue to do and justify it. Not even the hunger that comes when we come to church on Sundays. But the hunger that exists deep down in the very pit of our being that’s always questioning whether we’re worth something. Whether what we do matters. Makes a difference. Whether how we treat ANOTHER makes a difference.
That’s the essence of what Jesus is saying to Peter when He says to go feed my sheep. He’s saying that the sheep out there, the people, are truly hungry for something because they don’t know what it is that they’re missing. They subjugate everything into a rationale that’s self-justifying. They walk around blind because they cannot see that the real truth of Jesus is that which yells at you from deep down, beneath all the minutia you and I create, all the justifications as to why we do what we do, and, thus ignore the truth that Jesus appeared not once, not twice, but three times and continues to this day for you and me just to be able to ask each of us whether we ARE feeding HIS sheep or are we content to sit by the side of the road and let the world go by. Saying that it’s not my problem. Not my responsibility. Not my gig.
But Jesus sat there with the disciples. He came to them in order that they have the light of truth. The light of renewal. The light that only comes when you’re in the presence of the one that gave up everything just so that we could have it all. This was the third time He appeared to them. But each time prior to this was to give a message. His message. His promise. Each time was to cement in the truth that each of them, each of us, are called to be a disciple to the world. This time it was different though. He wanted them to confirm what He already knew what was in their heart of hearts. Doesn’t He ask you and me the same questions too?