Feed My Sheep

by Fr Duncan McVicar on 31/03/2013 -

The fishing boat is bobbing gently on the lake, a hundred yards offshore. Occasionally a wave slaps against its side though the lake is surprisingly still this morning. They labour all night to earn a living. But not this night. This night they haven’t netted a single fish. On shore, the sleepy village of Capernaum is beginning to stir. On its rocky beach the fishermen can see the glow of a small fire. Occasionally a breeze brings them the aroma of fish cooking. Peter’s stomach remembers its hunger, and his mouth can almost taste the savoury fish. Who’s tending the fire? It’s a man. Peter can see that much. He looks familiar, but Peter can’t place him.Now the man brings up his hands and cups them about his mouth. A moment later his voice reaches the boat: “Boys,” he shouts. “Put your nets out on the right side of the boat and you’ll find some fish” “Every landlubber thinks he’s an expert fisherman!” fumes Peter. But they are ready to put out the net again. Why not the right side this time? What do they have to lose? All of a sudden the stillness of morning is broken by the writhing of trapped fish and a tremendous tug on the net that, for a moment, threatens to capsize the boat. The men are instantly alert and position themselves to pull in the thrashing net. They must have caught a whole school of fish — on the right side of the boat! Peter looks up from his exertion to the man on the shore. John, too, is straining to see him. “It’s the Lord!” shouts John. “It’s Jesus!” The others are struggling with the net, but Peter doesn’t care. He grabs his clothes, dives into the lake, and swims with powerful strokes until the water is shallow enough for him to run splashing the rest of the way. Dripping, he drops to his knees before Jesus — the risen Lord, the man he has spent three years following, emulating, serving. Jesus calls to the men — disciples with whom he has shared many meals. “Come, have some breakfast!” Jesus, the great Feeder of men is feeding them again this morning. Now Jesus calls him aside. “Do you love me Peter?” With pain, Peter remembers how three times he had vehemently denied Jesus just before his crucifixion. He can hardly look Jesus in the eye. He mumbles, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” “Peter, feed my sheep,” says Jesus. Three times Jesus asked Peter to reaffirm his love — once for each time Peter had denied him. Three times Jesus reaffirms Peter’s call to ministry. Jesus not only forgives Peter, he restores him fully to his confidence. Jesus is talking about spiritual food — teaching, praying, leading, exhorting, serving. Jesus is asking for Peter’s love, but with that love, obedience too. “Yes, I love you, Jesus,” says Peter clearly, lifting his eyes to meet the Master’s. “Then feed my sheep,” says the great Feeder of men. “Peter, I need you to feed my sheep for me.” “Yes, Lord, of course I will,” whispers Peter, as his eyes flood with tears. “You can count on me.”


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