Let us imagine for a moment that we are Peter in our gospel last week, John 21. Christ Jesus is standing before and He asks, ‘Do you love me?’
What would we say? For Christ is not demanding our love, he is not saying ‘you must love me.’ He asks us in freedom, do you love me?
And even though Peter answers yes, lord, Christ then tells him what that love means. Christ says to Peter, and he says to all of us, If you love me, tend to my lambs, Shepherd my sheep. The astounding call to humanity is that if we want to love Christ Jesus, we must become shepherds- shepherds who tend and feed their lambs. We are all called to become Shepherds of Souls.
And it is no accident that in the Sacrament of The Ordination of Priests we are called Shepherds of Souls. This is because within every human heart slumbers an inner priest, an inner shepherd waiting to be born.
Our inner shepherd is born when we care for the lambs that God has given us, those human souls that we find in our lives. When we feed each other loving thoughts, thoughts that touch the highest in the other, thoughts that build up faith, hope and trust, we nourish our sheep.
We are born as shepherds when we realize with deep gratitude that without one another, without our sheep, we would have nothing, no warmth, no ‘milk’, that our whole life is due to our sheep, just like a shepherd.
We are born as shepherds when we seek to help our lambs find rich pasture and protect them from the wolf. For the wolf comes to devour our joy, to cut us down, to poison our hearts with fear, hate and cynicism.
Dear friends, the secret of the gospel this week is that we love Christ through loving our lambs; those human souls who have been given to us to care for; our wives and husbands, our friends, our children, all whom we are asked to love including our enemies.
May we love God with all our hearts and minds, may all become shepherds.
Contemplation by Rev. Jonah Evans