Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Do you love me?"


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.’--John 21: 15-19

I'm on my way to Gainesville today to revisit the labyrinth at the Florida School of Massage. It is, as some might describe it, a "thin place": a spot where I believe one stands in-between the worlds and where God's presence can be felt strongly. That has been my experience anyway. I have known only one other place where I have felt that presence so profoundly and that is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Unfortunately, they are more than a 2-1/2 hour drive away, so I am happy to have easier access to the labyrinth at FSM.

As I go, I am carrying with me in my head this passage from John 21. It was the gospel lesson last Friday at noon day. And I found myself hyper-aware of the question posed to Simon Peter there on the beach: "Do you love me?"

What I realize is that this exchange, while presented as a report from John on the dialogue between Jesus and Peter, is really the eternal question being posed to me and each of us. And if we answer, as Peter did, that we do love Jesus, then we are to feed and tend his sheep. But that's not all that Jesus said. It's the next part that made me grip the edges of the bench where I sat listening to Father Lee Graham's homily. That part about, "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, someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." This is the warning to Peter that he will die by crucifixion. But, as I heard it and have had it playing back over and over in my head, it is the caution to me that an answer of "Yes" and an act of "tending and feeding" means that my will won't be done, but thy will. No longer will I get to do as I pleased.
Is this what is meant by being a "slave to Christ", St. Paul?

Time to go.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you find the peace that you are looking for today. I love the labyrinth at FSM. I like the whole campus.

Peace.

Peggins

Two Auntees said...

Actually, Kay and I were up in those part of New Hampshire last summer, but we ran out of time to visit the area.

Do you love me?, is a question I keep asking even though I know the answer.

Phoebe said...

You are learning!

SCG said...

Phoebe: well, it's about time that I did.

Two Auntees: I hope if you two make it up to NH again you'll take a drive through the White Mountains. It is one of the "thinnest" places I've been in.

Peggins: Thanks! I'm going to jot down some of what I experienced. It was a good trip.