Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19
I find today’s Gospel both enigmatic – and, somewhat understandable. The enigma – what did Jesus mean with his three questions which were each stated a little differently – “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and, “Feed my sheep.” In that culture at that time with Jesus talking to a male apostle, was there specific language meaning to the choice of words? I don’t know. However, from this Gospel story I take this message for my life – how many times daily do I respond to Christ’s call to me to “tend to others”? How many times daily do I think I’m responding to “tending to others” when perhaps I am not? Am I a 21st century version of Simon Peter and have to be reminded three times every day?
I react to the last part of the Gospel in two ways, i.e., “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.” For those of us who are older, we recognize the aging process, and, by parallel, the changes that happen with getting older. The Gospel continues – “He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” The message to me is that one needs to expect to make sacrifices. With aging there is change and sacrifices are made in our lives and in the “tending of others.” Besides the aging metaphor, to follow Christ’s call to “tend to others” on a daily basis may well mean sacrifice.
Jesus questioned Simon Peter about his commitment to Christ’s calling and prepared the apostles for the sacrifices that would be necessary in following Christ’s calling. He then said – “Follow me.” As a 21st century Christian, am I following?
By Elizabeth Furlong