Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Feed, Tend, Feed

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After the big fish catch, the fishing buddies gather on shore. A charcoal fire is lit, and the smoke is wafting through the cool morning air, and the fish — which to this day is known as St. Peter’s Fish, not much more than an oversized croppie or bluegill — is frying over the fire. Together they eat the fish and the bread.

When they finish eating, Jesus turns and says to Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Peter says to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” And Jesus says to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Without missing a beat, Jesus asks again if Peter loves him, and after Peter says that he does love him, Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.”

Then again, as though the question had not been asked, Jesus inquires about Peter’s love. Peter is hurt by this persistent questioning, and he blurts out, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus commands him, once again, “Feed my sheep”

Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. What is Jesus driving home in this dialogue with Simon Peter? On one level, he is giving Peter the opportunity to cancel out the three cowardly denials he made. Although Peter had insisted three times that he was not a disciple of Jesus, now he affirms three times that he loves his Lord. Three denials, three affirmations. The slate is now wiped clean, and you could say that as a disciple, this duck has turned from cowardly yellow, to loyal true-blue.