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Feed My Sheep

During this Easter season we are given the opportunity to listen and reflect on the word of God from the Gospel of John. For the third and final time this weekend, we will hear a post-resurrection appearance of Christ to his apostles. It is through these appearances that Christ proves his resurrection, dispels the darkness of doubt in his apostle’s mind, and commissions them to make known the love and joy of these events to the world.

The Gospel this weekend tells us that after the death and resurrection of Christ, the disciples have returned to fishing, as they once did before they followed Christ. These skilled fishermen do not catch anything all night, until a man comes on the shore of the beach and tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and they catch an abundance of fish, that the net should have broke, but it did not. After they caught these fish, the apostles realized that it was the Lord, who has now called them a second time from their job of fishing to become fishers of people.

Jesus has prepared a meal for the disciples around a charcoal fire. The last time a charcoal fire was mentioned in the Gospel of John was when Peter was around it, warming himself, and denying Christ. Jesus welcomes the disciples around the fire for a meal, and during that time converses with Peter, to make amends to what Peter had previously done. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, to which Peter full heartily answers “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” To each of these responses Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep” Thus reconciling Peter with Christ.

It is interesting to note that the original Greek, from which the Gospel was translated from, uses two different words for love, “Agape” and “Philia.” In the New Testament Agape is used to reference the love that is and comes from God. It is used to describe the nature of God and the unending love that God gives us freely. Philia is the family love, the community love that we share. Jesus uses Agape the first two times and then uses Philia the third and final time he questions Peter.

Peter is asked if He loves Jesus and because of his affirmation of love in him, Peter is called to share that love, to “feed my sheep.” The love we have for Christ is expressed in the love that we share with one another. It is fulfilled in the kindness and sincerity of our actions, the mercy and compassion we share with one another. The love we have for Christ is shared in the humility of our service and in the ways we communicate with one another. The love we have for Christ is expressed in the ways that we live out our faith and make Jesus known to others. Love is shown when we take to heart the words of Christ and feed his sheep.

As we celebrate this Easter season Jesus is asking us as well, “ Do you love me” to which we must an answer. It is this answer, that if it is with a full and open heart, like Peter, will be expressed in our lives through the many encounters we have in feeding his sheep.


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