Jesus is saying to you, the moment of your reading this: “_____________ (insert your name), do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord” you say, “you know that I love You.”
I’m a little hurt that He would ask me. He’s supposed to know all things, and I know that I love Him. The question hurts, but because it is Jesus, my Lord, asking, I am willing to consider the question anyway.
Just as I think that’s the end of Jesus’ little test, I hear Him say to me: “Feed my lambs.”
What? What’s He mean, “Feed my lambs”? Peter was an apostle, a shepherd in the Church: I know what it meant for him. But what’s He mean, “Feed my lambs” when he says it to me?
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, this I know. He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the spiritual meat and drink that feeds the world and gives it life. Do I still not know what He means by “Feed my lambs”?
It’s all a blur, this mixture of Jesus questioning my love, my protestation of and profession of love, my fear at its implications, and the laying bare of my soul before Him who is my Lord and God. How excellent is Jesus at provoking so much soul searching out of so few words!
Even as you begin to ponder these things in your heart, you hear, “_________, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I do! You know that I call myself a Christian and would not disown You. You know that You have placed Your Spirit in me as a deposit of my inheritance in You. You know the things I’ve sacrificed to follow You, and You know that my faith is not dead. Your question hurts me, but I will hear it.”
You hear a second time: “Feed my sheep.”
Do I love Him? I know that I do. But now that He’s asked a second time and is calling me to feed His sheep, I also know the ways that I don’t. How don’t I love thee, Lord? Let me count the ways. I have not loved thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. I have not loved thee with all my heart and soul and mind.Do I love thee more than these? What “these”? To what shall I compare my love? Do I love thee more than the sum of my possessions, do I love thee above all worldly prestige and power? Do I love thee and find my all in thee, and not in those minute reflections of You I find in my job and friends and family and home?
“____________, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” you say, acknowledging that the best you can answer is that you both love Him and have not loved Him well enough. Disarmed by His love, embarrassed by the lack of you r own, I am ready to hear and feel more.
“Feed my lambs.”
Do I love You enough not only to come to You and hear You and be with You, but do I love You enough to go to others, as You left Your Father to come to me? Will I lay down the scattered sheep of my life and sacrifice them to You? Will I sacrifice my things for You, to give myself to You by giving myself to others?
Now I know love: it’s to be with You, that I may be the way You come to others. It’s to surrender my will to be both the sacrificial lamb that is a whole burnt offering to You and to be a shepherd to others. It is to dwell in You as You dwell in me.
Do I love You, Lord? I do, with whatever love You are willing to provide for me today, O Shepherd of my soul.
Point for Meditation:
1. With all honesty, evaluate your love for the Lord. Where is it strong and alive? Where is it weak and malnourished?
2. To better love Him, meditate first on the love which He has shown to You.
Prayer: O Lord, the God of all goodness and of all grace, who art worthy of a greater love
than we can either give or understand: fill our hearts, we beseech thee, with such love toward thee that nothing may seem too hard for us to do or to suffer in obedience to thy will; and grant that, thus loving thee, we may become daily more like unto thee,
and finally obtain the crown of life which thou hast promised to those that love thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Resolution: I resolve, remembering His love, to find one way to feed His sheep today as He has commanded me.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson