Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Far too often in life, we find ourselves convinced that the long-range plans we have developed are flawless and beyond reproach - only to find our best laid plans collapsing around us as we observe, mouths agape, the carnage of our ideas. I cannot help but think of Robert Burn’s poem, “To a Mouse” with its line “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men.....” The more confidence we gain in ourselves, the more likely that confidence is to fail us. Today’s scriptures focus on two of the most powerful men in the Bible as they receive new directions from Jesus about the direction their life is to go.
Acts 9 picks up the story of Saul, the sworn enemy of the Way and a Jew among Jews, as he heads from Jerusalem to Damascus with special directions for the purpose of persecuting anyone he finds who is following Jesus. His hatred of the Way was so deep he “breathed threats and murder.” I can only imagine that his companions struggled to keep up with him as the headed to Damascus at a brisk pace in order to get right into the hunt for those he could bind and return to Jerusalem for trial.
In John 21 we see some of the disciples doing what they did before the arrival of Jesus - fishing. Jesus calls them to shore and they share a meal together. Peter, the strong, fiery, impulsive member of the Apostles finds himself challenged three times by Jesus (the same number of times he denied knowing Jesus) whether he loved him. Of course, being the fiery one, at the third time, he responded in his frustration.
Saul’s march to Damascus was halted by a blinding light and the voice of Christ challenging his purpose. The ONE who fueled his passion suddenly called him to account for his actions and give him a new purpose in life. Instead of persecuting the fledgling church, he became the mouthpiece that took the church into places it would not have soon reached.
Each time Peter answered that he did love Jesus, Jesus followed that assurance with a pastoral command. Peter’s personality was not best suited for that kind of pastoral care, yet Jesus explicitly directed him to “feed,” “tend,” “feed” - gentle, quiet care of the flock.
Both Saul and Peter had different visions for themselves than were in the plans of Christ. As strong and powerful as they were, their lives were redirected by the transformative power of Christ. Whether motivated by hatred (fear) or passionate love God has in mind the ministry for each of us. We just have to watch, listen, and obey.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org