Mean What You Say

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter


We return to a post-resurrection story in these last two days before Pentecost. Jesus is with his apostles on the shores of the Sea of Galilee having fish for breakfast. Different, but not relevant for our consideration. Jesus poses a question to Peter, a question he poses to us as well. Asking it once, and a second time, may not have caught his attention. Until he asked it a third time. Now Peter is distressed. Did Jesus not hear his first two answers? Did Jesus doubt he meant what he said the first two times? Clearly Jesus was trying to make a point, not only to Peter, but to us. Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs. Care for the flock I have entrusted to you.

Sometimes our shepherds have not done a good job caring for God’s flock. We need to hold them accountable. But we are also entrusted the care of one another in not so insignificant a degree. We are called by Jesus to place the good of our neighbor, his flock entrusted to us, before our own. In this volatile climate of pandemic stress, what should easily be regarded as common sense care for the most vulnerable among us has been convoluted into a battle in the defense of civil liberties. If we can prevent the spread of a deadly virus that targets the elderly and those with extraordinary health challenges, even if some of our cherished freedoms are curtailed, freedoms including going to the mall when we are inclined to, going to restaurants and the movies, and going to church, would not Jesus ask us to concern ourselves with our neighbor’s good above all? We would do whatever was required of us if our children’s health and well-being demanded it. We would do the same if our parents’ and grandparents’ health and well-being demanded it. Why would it be any different if it was someone else’s children and someone else’s parents and grandparents?

We need to return to Jesus’ teaching and example, and stop listening to those who stoke the flames of selfish self-interest and outrage. George Floyd was murdered because his life was regarded by those police officers to be of lesser value than their own. This senseless murder requires that justice be served. The violence and looting that followed, although counterproductive and ultimately as evil as the murder itself, cannot be justified. But it is the product of long pent-up rage by many who have long been oppressed and unjustly treated. Where are our shepherds? Are we not shepherds ourselves, sent to care for God’s flock? Saying you love God means nothing if you don’t back your nice words with concrete action.

This mass was offered for the intentions of Jennifer & Robert Dunford on the occasion of their wedding anniversary.

Rolo B Castillo © 2020