*Dominican Women Afire will be preaching during the Easter Season with their daily preaching newsletter.*
Third Sunday of Easter Following Jesus: The Call to Discipleship
In this gospel we hear again stories of Jesus seeing his disciples after the resurrection. Several times we see Jesus having conversations with his disciples without them recognizing him—at least not right away. They don’t recognize him until he does something familiar. For Mary, it was when Jesus called her name. For the disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel, it was when Jesus broke the bread as he had done on the night of the Last Supper. And for Peter, James, and John, it was when Jesus led them to this miraculous catch. Are there times when we don’t recognize Jesus?
Sometimes we are so preoccupied, we miss the movement of Jesus that is right in front of us. Maybe it is because he doesn’t look the way we think he would, as in the homeless person on the street that we try not to look at. Maybe it is because we don’t expect to see him work, as in the volunteers at the border who give of themselves to help their brothers and sisters who are displaced. We don’t always recognize Jesus, but Jesus knows how to make himself familiar to us his disciples. It isn’t the same for everyone, but he knows us so well that it can be custom-made. How does Jesus move in your life in such a way that you know it is the movement of God’s Spirit?
Again, in this passage, Jesus responds to Peter with three commands: “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep.” Jesus calls us to care for all of those that he loves. We must recognize that we are called to care for all. Throughout Scripture, we see that loving God and loving neighbor are inextricable actions. One cannot love God if one does not love neighbor, for one’s neighbor is also of God. God loves them as much as God loves you. So, you care for them because God loves them, and they, too, belong to God. Love is an action verb. It is not enough to say that the other people know that they are loved. Love must be followed with action. Do you tend and feed Jesus’ flock because you love him?
We see Jesus inviting the disciples to follow him. In this post-resurrection telling, this story can be seen as an updated call. Now that Jesus is risen, the call is different. They have a better sense of the ministry and what it means to follow and serve Jesus without Jesus being physically present with them. Instead of being taught by Jesus, they are now called to teach and to live into what they have been taught. This is a new phase of their call and ministry.
The disciples had already been following Christ for years. Yet, Jesus commands again, “Follow me.” But unlike before, they do not get to follow Jesus in the literal way. Jesus will no longer be with them in person. They don’t get to touch him or hear him in the same way. This is a new way of following Jesus. We follow his teachings and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry on his work, even though he is no longer physically on earth. This is the general invitation to discipleship that Jesus makes to us: follow and be a member of his flock. To live for Jesus is to follow Jesus.
Sister Gina Fleming, OP
Dominican Sisters of Amityville