Saturday, 7 November 2009

Feed My Sheep


"There is a story told about a group of pilgrims who were touring the Holy Land with a guide who was native to the place. The guide was explaining how since time immemorial the shepherd did not walk behind his sheep but rather in front leading them and they followed him, just as the Lord describes Himself as the good shepherd: ". . . the sheep hear His voice and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice" (John 10:3-4).

As the guide finished this explanation, the group laughed when they saw a man walking behind a flock of sheep and driving them along with a stick. Someone commented to the guide, "I thought you said the shepherds here always lead the sheep. Why is that man walking behind and driving them forward?" The guide answered, "Because he isn't the shepherd; he's the butcher."

"I am the good shepherd: I know my own and my own know me" (John 10:14). The English word pastor is borrowed directly from the Latin word pastor meaning a "shepherd." Bishop John (Martin) of blessed memory once stated, "There are too many pastors for the work that is being done and not enough for the work that needs to be done." What is the work that needs to be done?

"So 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.' He 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.' He said to him, 'Tend My sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, 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 everything; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep'" (John 21:15-17).

The Lord did not say to Peter, "be a great liturgist, discuss theology, rule over the faithful, be a great scholar, dress strangely, have long prayers or shun the world," nor any of the other things that often typify the "work that is being done." He says simply, "Feed My sheep."

It is easy for all of us to forget that the task of the priesthood is to nourish the faithful of the Church, to "Feed My sheep." There is simply no other way for the priest to show his love for Christ than to begin by showing it for the people for whom Christ died."

Part of a meditation by Protopriest Lawrence Barriger of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.
HT Bishop David Chislett, Traditional Anglican Bishop of Brisbane (click on the post title to be re-directed to Bishop David's blog, but please note that provision of this link is not an endorsement of all of Bishop David's views - I just find it an interesting site to visit in order to keep up with Anglican developments as well as a link with my old hometown).

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