Monday after Quasimodogeniti
Scripture: St. John 21:1-25 (NKJV)
21:1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.”
6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. 14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
Five times Jesus appeared to His apostles as a group after He rose from the dead. In almost every case, there was a ‘sending’ that took place—Jesus sending out His apostles for the work of the ministry.
Peter, too, was to have a part in that ministry, even though he had three times denied Jesus before men. Three times in today’s reading Jesus gave Peter the chance to confess his love for Jesus, and with each confession of love, Jesus commended His precious sheep and lambs to Peter’s care as their earthly shepherd, that is, as their “pastor,” which means “shepherd.”
But it wasn’t to Peter alone, or even to Peter primarily that Jesus entrusted the pastoral ministry. It was to all the apostles and to all who would later be appointed by the Holy Spirit through the call of the Church as pastors and overseers of the flock of Christ. Although the risen Christ is the Good Shepherd, He tends His sheep through the ministry of the shepherds whom He has given to the Church.
For their part, it must be love for Christ which drives and characterizes their ministry. And for the sheeps’ part, they must not imagine that they have no need of the pastors whom Christ has sent. Pastors faithfully preaching and administering the Sacrament, sheep gratefully being fed by their Shepherd through the ministry of His pastors—this is the good and gracious will of the risen Christ for His Church until He comes again.
We pray: O Lord Christ, we give You thanks for faithful pastors and for the faithful flocks who benefit from and support their ministry. In Your mercy, govern Your sheepfold so that no sheep are ever left without the care of faithful and loving pastors. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.