28 April 2011

Shepherding the Sheep with Compassion

The Lord does not willingly grieve the sons of men, but desires to give them times of refreshment in heart and mind, body, soul and spirit.

Why, then, does the Lord grieve Peter?

You know it had to be awkward and painful. You’ve been there, too, in coming face to face with a loved one you have hurt or disappointed or failed in some way. Why must Jesus push the point and seemingly rub it in?

He knows all things. He knows that Peter loves Him. And of course He also knows Peter’s denials, as He knew them beforehand; as, indeed, He knew them before He ever called that sinful man to follow Him, to be a disciple, a fisher of men, a holy Apostle.

He likewise knows your faith and love, which are His good work in you, His gracious gift. And He knows your denials, too, and the cowardice and fear from which they stem. He knows your frailty and weakness, your guilt and shame, your embarrassment and pain.

So why does He put you on the spot with His questions? Why does He keep asking?

He grieves you in this way, as He grieved Simon Peter, not to be petty or spiteful, but for the sake of Love: His Love for you, which is unfailing and never ending. He puts you to the test, not to trip you up or trick you, but to strengthen your faith.

He wounds you in order to heal you, He puts you to death in order to raise you up; as He Himself glorified God by His death, and was glorified by the Father in His death — so does He raise up and glorify in Himself the weak and weary, the wounded and the fallen.

He reminds you of your sin, not to shame or embarrass you, but to bring about repentance, to restore you faith and love through the forgiveness of your sins.

He turns you away from your wickedness and failure, to follow Him through death into life.

Thus, He calls you, not to deny Him out of fear, but to follow Him in faith. He does so in love: knowing your sin better than you do, but loving you for His own sake.

It is for the sake of such love and compassion, also, that He grieves you and allows you to grieve; that you might learn mercy, compassion, sympathy and love for those who sin, and for those who suffer. He would catechize you to be, not vindictive or vengeful, but forgiving and kind. So that, as He tends you, feeds you, and shepherds you with His Gospel of forgiveness, and with His own Body and Blood, you would likewise feed your neighbor and tend to his needs.

And if you suffer and die in doing so, if you are bound and put to death and shed your blood, you glorify God and follow Christ. Not by your own strength and determination, but by His grace.

Do not be afraid, and do not despair. For the One who calls you loves you and cares for you. And as often as you fall, He raises you up. He forgives you, He feeds you, and He gives you life; because He loves you, and His love never fails.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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