Is Your Religion About Love And Service?

Fr Valle makes his usual interesting points in this week’s homily. An excerpt:

Jesus tells Peter: “When you were young, you fastened your own belt and went where you pleased. When you are old , others will tie you fast and lead you where you would not go.” This is what “to feed the sheep” means; it means that we must sacrifice: sacrifice our autonomy: sacrifice our superficial desires; ultimately, sacrifice our lives. We must make these sacrifices, not to suffer for suffering sake but to make the sheep holy. This is precisely what the word sacrifice means. It comes from two Latin words: sacrum, meaning holy and facere, meaning to make.

There is a quote from Rabbi Hillel I read this week which really struck me. He said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?” I don’t know! But this much I am sure of: If I am not for others, for the lambs and the sheep, I am not a follower of Jesus Christ, no matter what Church I belong to or what creed I profess. We must not only hear the call to follow Him. We must, also, think and pray constantly on what that call means. I imagine Peter only, finally, fully understood what it means as he was being crucified up-side down on a street in Rome.

The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com. To see the entire homily click on ‘read more.’ Search for other Fr Vallee homilies in this blog by entering ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper left hand corner or look for Fr Vallee in the Labels.

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Fr Vallee Homily — April 18 2010

I. Soap opera?
At first glance, today’s Gospel reads like a bad soap opera with Jesus in the role of the insecure teenage girl: “Simon, Son of John, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” You can almost feel the frustration for Simon. “Yes, Lord, I love you! But why do you keep asking the same thing?” Of course, Jesus is not am insecure teenage girl with a crush on Peter. The text is more subtle and more interesting than that.

II. No, not the same question
First of all, the question is not the same question three times. The first question is: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jesus may have been referring to the other disciples, after all, at the Last Supper, Peter said he would never leave if even all the others left – just before he denied him three times. This is perhaps the first and most obvious meaning of, “Do you love me?” Also, he is having Peter make up for the three denials. The second meaning may be Jesus sweeping his hand over all the stuff — the boat, the fish, all the things they have — and asking Peter if he loved him more than all these things. The third meaning , is for me at least, the most interesting. Peter has seen Jesus perform all sorts if miracles. In fact, he has seen that Jesus has risen from the dead. Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him more than all that power. Peter will have to make the choice that every single Christian faces – everyone from the Pope in Rome to the poorest baby baptized two weeks ago: “Is religion, for you, about love and service or about power and status?

III. Not the same command
I think this is very clear from the three-fold command that Jesus lays on Peter. Notice, like the questions, this is not a pure repetition. First Jesus says: “Shepherd my lambs.” Lambs are baby sheep. He is saying that Peter must care for the smallest, the weakest and the most helpless of his brothers and sisters. Of course, by extension, so must we all if we really want to follow Jesus. Second, Jesus says, “Shepherd my sheep.” Sheep are grown up lambs. Jesus means we are not just supposed to care for the cute little lambs who are easy to love. We must, likewise care for the sheep — the grown lambs, the ones who are much harder to love. Sheep are smelly, noisy and not so attractive. People can be hurt, hostile and angry, We have to care for them, too. Third Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” We must try to feed all the sheep. But what does that mean? It is not so easy to understand. So Jesus goes on to explain to Peter, and to us, what he means and what he wants of us.

IV. Another will tie you fast–
Jesus tells Peter: “When you were young, you fastened your own belt and went where you pleased. When you are old , others will tie you fast and lead you where you would not go.” This is what “to feed the sheep” means; it means that we must sacrifice: sacrifice our autonomy: sacrifice our superficial desires; ultimately, sacrifice our lives. We must make these sacrifices, not to suffer for suffering sake but to make the sheep holy. This is precisely what the word sacrifice means. It comes from two Latin words: sacrum, meaning holy and facere, meaning to make.

V. Hillel: conclusion
There is a quote from Rabbi Hillel I read this week which really struck me. He said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?” I don’t know! But this much I am sure of: If I am not for others, for the lambs and the sheep, I am not a follower of Jesus Christ, no matter what Church I belong to or what creed I profess. We must not only hear the call to follow Him. We must, also, think and pray constantly on what that call means. I imagine Peter only, finally, fully understood what it means as he was being crucified up-side down on a street in Rome.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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