Sunday, April 18, 2010

Follow Me

Hearing today’s gospel reminded me of the last time I read this passage of John.  I was in Lectio when I realized just how important it was that Peter went back to fishing after the Crucifixion.  This epiphany led to a rather vivid imagining on my part of the entire scene, which I present to you all here.  

After they finished eating breakfast, Peter bent down to pick up his nets. It made sense to him to return to fishing; it was the life Peter always knew, after all. As he stood with the nets in his hands, intending to return to the boat, he met the gaze of the Lord Jesus standing before him. “Simon, son of John," He said to Peter, "do you love me more than these?”

He squeezed the nets tightly in his hands and swallowed hard. “Yes, Lord,” he answered, his voice cracking and low. “You know that I love you.” 

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Peter nodded, then turned toward the sea, focusing once again on gathering up his nets. 

Jesus placed his pierced hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Simon, Son of John,” He said, turning Peter back around to face Him.  Looking earnestly into Peter’s eyes, Jesus asked him again, “Do you love me?” 

Peter tightly closed his eyes for a moment and answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  He gripped the nets tighter, afraid to let it go, afraid to disappoint his Master once again. 

“Tend my sheep.” 

He remembered with shame his arrogance in the upper room before Jesus' arrest, promising to follow Jesus anywhere, even to death. Peter stared at the nets in his hands. I'm still that same arrogant fool, he thought. He couldn't catch a fish all night, until the Lord arrived at the seashore. He needed his Master for everything.  


“Simon, son of John.” Jesus placed his wounded hand on Peter's clenched fists and asked him a third time, “Do you love me?”

Peter’s gaze shifted from the nets to the wound in the back of Jesus' hand. Everything Jesus said, everything He predicted, flashed through Peter's mind, especially that last prediction--that Peter would deny his Master. “Lord, you know everything.”  He looked into Jesus’ face as tears quietly fell from his eyes. “You know that I love you.”

"Feed my sheep."  Peter saw that Jesus was holding in his other hand some of the bread from which they ate that morning. "Amen," Jesus continued, "Amen I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; 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."  It was at this moment that Peter realized exactly what Jesus was asking of him.  "Follow me."

He said nothing in reply, but dropped his nets, took the bread from Jesus' hands and followed, even unto death. 


Eddie Ray said...

Great job Gina..........
I never realized how many people don't know anything about the time Christ spent on Earth after his death and resurrection.We all need to help tend His sheep a little more.

Gina said...

Dearest to me, you are right-on. I think sometimes we fixate on one or two aspects of our faith, we miss the richness of it. He appeared to thousands of people after His resurrection--exactly the way He did during his life before He was crucified. That was an important time for the Church, and I am so thankful that we spend the season of Easter examining these parts of Scripture until Pentecost.

I also must thank our globe-trotting friend Fr. J.J. for reminding me about my thoughts on this passage during his homily Sunday.

Trisha Niermeyer Potter said...

I think this Gospel passage is indicative of how we must remain close to Jesus because we are called to ongoing metanoia in our lives. Left to our own devices, we would go back to doing what we had before we knew Christ and allowed ourselves to be transformed by Him, just as Peter did.

Gina said...

Trisha, Thank you for reading! Yes, we always face the danger of returning to a lifestyle that is bad for our souls. I've done it, many of my friends have done it (and are doing it); it really brings to life the interconnectedness of sacred Scripture, how each lesson builds upon itself.

What you say about going back and doing what we'd done before...Luke 11:24-26 comes to mind. I read a piece about 2 years ago titled "The Second Bridge" by James H. Dobbins, which talked about a second conversion experience, how Peter's denial of Christ was an example of this.

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