When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
For many of us, we read this passage and focus on the repeated response of Peter and Jesus’ subsequent call to feed His sheep. Often lost is the verse regarding how life changes as we get older. This bit about fastening one’s belt and having the agency to go where you want to go is important. We are reminded that just as we are called to love and care for others, we are also dependent upon others for our care. At different points in our lives, that dependency is greater than others. God knows our human vulnerabilities and limitations, because God has been here and experienced humanity in the life of Jesus Christ. Today, I invite you to consider: is it easier for you to care for others or to be cared for AND how are you “feeding” Jesus’ sheep? May we remember that our Savior has experienced life as a human and reminds us of how important it is to care for one another.
Loving God, thank You for coming into this world in human form. Guide us to recognize our dependence on others and the importance of caring for others. Strengthen us to feed Your sheep today as we care and love those around us. Amen.