Tending

14 Apr

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 3 After Easter 14 April 2013
Tending
In His resurrected state, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15)
Peter: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus: “Feed my lambs.”
And Peter did. He spiritually led the new and growing group of believers after Jesus’ ascension and empowering of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2) He “fed” the “lambs” new in the faith. He laid a solid foundation so that the new Church could thrive.
A second time Jesus said to Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus: “Tend my sheep.”
What does “tend” mean? I looked it up:
1. Be inclined; be conductive; make in direction of; inclination, bent [! –Hold that thought], having, showing tendency or bias; controversial.
2. Take care of, watch over
And the Church did watch, along with John of Patmos:
Rev 6:1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! [Purity] Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent [!] on conquest.
The Early Church rose up with such courage despite the heavy and brutal persecution she suffered. In the lectionary readings today we are told of voices of many angels surrounding God’s throne and the living creatures and the elders. (Rev 5:11) Back in Rev 4:7 John describes Four Living Creatures around the throne and they are covered with eyes. (Rev 4:6) When charging forth in pure faith it can be comforting to know that God and other courageous saints are watching our fronts and backs with soft eyes. The first living creature was like a lion. Lions are known for their courage. It takes great courage to face the unknown in faith even when our heads know God is good and loving and all we have to do is open ourselves to receive. Kahlil Gibran said in The Prophet,
“And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?”
When we are young “lambs” we tend to ride boldly forth bent on conquest. I suppose Peter and the young apostles had had this vision in mind when they’d thought that Jesus had come as a political Messiah to save them from Roman oppression. Young blood tends to believe that might is right. In actuality this is also the maturity stage which some of our Muslim brothers are at. We’ve been there (and some are still there), and done that. Show mercy and grace. How? Remember. And for those with dementia, even youth with a disconnected spirit which mimics dementia? Remember for them. Remember with love, kindness, tenderness, and playful humor like that of a sweet mom to her child.
The Second of the Four Living Creatures was like an ox. (Rev 4:7) Oxen are known for their strength and steadfastness. These are character qualities forged and honed in faithful service.
Gibran said:
“When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always have you been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.”
It is human nature at the stage of development in mid-life to work hard at working hard. It is very ox-like. And then more Life happens:
John 21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. …
And the Church followed in Peter’s sandals. The Church lived out, into, and through Jesus’ words to Peter. She did fasten her own “belt” and went wherever she wished. In some parts of the world she had the freedom to do this, and in other parts she risked more persecution and death for the sake of the gospel. And then she fulfilled the second half of Jesus’ statement:
…But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”
Not only does this describe Peter’s fate (v 19), but it also portrays an accurate picture of almost every Alzheimer’s Unit in many nursing homes and in psychiatric hospitals. It also describes the Church in her senior years as she has wandered off and forgotten her First Love. (Rev 2:4) Truly the Church has been “crucified” upside down just as Peter was crucified upside down. Peter was a glorious, passionate, innocent, and mirror-opposite reflection to our passionate Lord, reflecting the One he loved.
Gibran: “And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of all of you all.
Like a procession you walk together toward your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.
Aye, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”
The Third Living Creature had a face like a man. (Rev 4:7) May we all wear this face with dignity.
And Jesus said to Peter a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” (John 21:17)
Peter felt hurt because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” (v 17) And the Church has felt hurt, too, because Jesus has asked us the same questions. Peter said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” The Church has watched Jesus break open the seals of the scroll (Rev 5:2) of chronos Time, and watched events unfold just as they have been laid out for us in scripture. We all have watched with both awe and horror as the living creature with the face of a man was himself and yet not. Humanity as a face of a man is himself and yet not. How does he rise above his “not-Self”? By engaging with Jesus, the Son of Man, to find his own internal god-self within Jesus’ Self and not separate from self. The ego-self is shed and refined in the process.
The Fourth Living Creature was like a flying eagle. (Rev 4:7) Eagles represent – what? How does one find one word to reflect this character trait?
Paraphrased: The Eagle represents spiritual protection, carries prayers, and brings strength, courage, wisdom, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, and knowledge. The eagle has an ability to see hidden spiritual truths, rising above the material to see the spiritual. The eagle has an ability to see the overall pattern, and the connection to elders and teachers. The eagle represents great power and balance, dignity with grace, a connection with higher truths, intuition and a creative spirit of grace achieved through knowledge and fortitude.
The dictionary of scripture and myth, describes the eagle as;
A symbol of the Holy Spirit, which flies, as it were, through the mind (air) from the higher nature (heaven) to the lower nature (earth) and soars aloft to the self (sun).
My prayer is that we would rise on the wings of grace to find Justice. By the time the reader gets to Rev 5:11, there is no specified mention of the FOUR living creatures. They are simply referred to as “living creatures.” Character qualities of courage (lion), steadfastness (ox), dignity (man), and justice (eagle) really do integrate within the psyche, even within the collective consciousness of a society. In Rev 4:4 there are twenty-four elders (wise ones) around God’s throne. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to God, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship God! (Whew! Can’t you just feel the relief flow off of them every time someone gets his eyes off of his ego-self and back on to God?!) By Rev 5:11 the voices of the myriad of thousands upon thousands of angels encircle the throne of God along with the living creatures and the elders. I picture the circle like the Alpha and Omega loop. They sing with full voice. They are unified; character and chronos Time as well, for even Time bows to God. They fall down and worship Him. (v 14)
I also notice that just as in “the living creatures” being numberless in this verse (Rev 5:11), so are the elders. By this verse not specifying FOUR living creatures and TWENTY-FOUR elders, we can see a sense of expansion in the collective consciousness of humanity, which is singing out in full voice so that there is no distinction of who is elder and which character is living. Expansion in integration of body-mind-spirit is numberless. It makes the impact that much stronger when the specified Four return in Rev 5:14. And if the twenty-four Elders represent the twenty-four Time Zones, then man and all of Time is bowing down to God for He alone is worthy. No other focus compares to Jesus:
Rev 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

5:12 singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
The way we “tend” Time speaks to “the followers of the Way.” (Acts 9:2) Do we squander it? Kill it? Watch it? Or care for it? Is it a friend or fiend? When Jesus asked Peter on the third round, “Do you love Me?… Feed My sheep,” (John 21:17) this also correlates to our present day in the Great Roundup. We are being given the opportunity with St Peter to “feed” all of God’s “sheep,” by SHOWING (ie, not just preaching at) each other the Way of loving-kindness and God’s friendship.
Gibran: “When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

3 After Easter 14 April 2013 Gospel: John 21:1-19
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

9:2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

9:3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

9:5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

9:6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.

9:8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

9:9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

9:10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

9:11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying,

9:12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”

9:13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;

9:14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”

9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;

9:16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

9:17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

9:18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized,

9:19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,

9:20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Psalm 30
30:1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

30:2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

30:3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

30:5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

30:6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

30:7 By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

30:8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication:

30:9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

30:10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!”

30:11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

30:12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

Revelation 5:11-14
5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

5:12 singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

John 21:1-19
21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.

21:2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.

21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

21:4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

21:5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”

21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

21:7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.

21:8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

21:9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.

21:10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.

21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.

21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

21:15 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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

21:16 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.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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.

21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”

21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

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One Response to “Tending”

  1. csvitek April 14, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    Hi Kathryn. Have you ever heard of the gospels being likened to the 4 images in this passage: lion, ox, man and eagle? Blessings to you, Cathy

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