Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tend the Flock of God in Your Midst

Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:15-18

Psalm 23 Antithesis (author: anonymous)
The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me into a deep depression.
It hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy, for activities sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done,
For my ideal is with me
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines
My in-basket overflows.
Surely fatigue and time pressures shall follow me
All the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Peter provides quite an example for us.  In imitation of Christ, the chief shepherd, those entrusted with a pastoral office are to tend the flock by their care and example.  Peter comes to his faith, as we know now, the hard way.  He denies Jesus.  After the Crucifixion, he retreats into the locked upper room.  When he finally emerges, he comes out not to preach but to go back to what he knew best – the comfort of the uncontested fishing boat.

However, before all that goes down, the Gospel attributes this confession to a divine revelation granted to Peter alone and makes him the SOLE rock on which Jesus will build his church.  Furthermore, Peter’s authority in the church on earth will be confirmed in heaven by God.  However, for an example to the flock, Peter is far from perfection.  Maybe that is exactly why I can identify with him so well.  I see in Peter a little of my own unbelief and my own tendency to remain in my comfort zone before being prodded to go out in the world and disrupt the status quo.

In a speech this week, Pope Francis has again emphasized the urgent need for “a coordinated and effective response” by the political community, civil society and the church to the challenges arising from the massive wave of migration across the world that has created the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.
Addressing participants at the Sixth International Forum on Migration and Peace that took place in Rome Feb. 21 to 22, the pope said it is a “moral imperative” to protect migrant workers “and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations” as well as those “exiled and seeking asylum” or “victims of trafficking.”
Moreover, he said, “defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.”  “We have a duty toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.”
How can we offer hospitality to the stranger – the stranger who is in the person of Jesus Christ? How can we be the rock upon the next wing of the Kingdom is constructed?

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