Sunday, April 14, 2013

Feed my Lambs; Feed my Sheep!

3rd Sunday of Easter

Gospel John 21:1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a 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.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Our first reading is a great example of the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished.” It is a brief account of the hospitality shown by the Sanhedrin after the crucifixion. The apostles were teaching about the risen Christ, and their stories were not so flattering to the temple leaders, so the apostles were brought in, interrogated, beaten and then sent away with a warning not to preach of Christ any more.

Well our Peter certainly has come a long way in a short time. It was not that long ago, on a chilly night in Jerusalem, when Peter was questioned about Jesus, and he denied even knowing the man. Now he and the apostles are ignoring the edict of the Jewish leaders and they are spreading the word of the risen Christ, and taking quite a beating for it. And the readings tell us they were joyful to be allowed to suffer for the sake of their work.

Our second reading provides us with a glimpse into the Revelation of John, the vision he was given of Christ returning to heaven.

A part of this vision we do not hear of today is that in John’s vision, is that up in heaven, surrounding God himself, the angels and elders were all sad because they were waiting for someone to come who would be worthy to open the scroll and break the seven seals which would release the four horsemen of the apocalypse and bring about the fall of Rome.

You can imagine their excitement when Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, returned to the right hand of God. Jesus was the one who was worthy to open the scroll.

John uses a lot of beautiful and powerful images in his Revelation writings. This vivid imagery is quite inspiring and John recorded these visions so that the struggling Christian communities could themselves be inspired. After all, they had lost Jesus but believed he would come again. Many of them had been awaiting the messiah who would lead them from the tyranny of Rome, which didn’t happen. John gave the Christians quite a boost when he revealed his visions.

We know that John’s revelation was written long after Christ’s death. John was probably very old when he had his visions. John grew so old and weak that he would be carried into mass on a straw mat so that he could preach and teach. And we know that the things he preached about most were Faith Hope and Love. And the most important of these is Love. John felt so strongly about this that until his dying day he would preach love. Love of God and one another. People would come up to him and say “Rabbi, what else is there to do? What else is there for us to know?” John would reply “Continue to love and love more.” And we all thought John Lennon came up with that concept.

Speaking of love, what does Jesus mean when he asks Peter “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus is referring to the other disciples he was fishing with that previous night.

Does Peter love Jesus more than the other disciples do? Of course Peter responds yes. Jesus asks Peter 3 times in 3 ways if he loved him. After the third time, Peter emphatically says YES. He just as quickly said yes to Jesus three times, in the same manner that he denied Jesus the night he was betrayed.

Each time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus charged Peter to care for his flock. It is Jewish custom that when questioned like that, being asked three times and being given a charge 3 times, and affirming that charge, Peter entered into a legal verbal contract to care for the flock. Of course that flock to whom Jesus is referring to is all of God’s people.

Jesus once said, it takes faith only the size of a mustard seed to move mountains, and it is on that rock of faith that he will build his church. Peter had little faith at first, but that was enough. That was enough to make Jesus happy, knowing that his work on Earth would continue.

Faith, Hope and Love. We see this illustrated in our readings today. Let us have faith that we can draw strength in the hope of the coming of our savior, Jesus the Christ, who loves us always. And let us have the strength to spread that love among each other and our greater community. Thanks be to God.

Written by Fr. James Morgan

St. Valentine Faith Community

Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2301 E Sunset Road
Suite 18
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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