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.”
There are always three phases or stages in our relationship with God: first is the call or the invitation, then comes our response and finally the mission.
Christ’s favorite words in the Gospels were “Come” and “Follow me”. It is a very sincere invitation into a relationship. The call can come in a variety of ways. For many, it comes when they are surmounted by problems and beset by great difficulties. For me, it often comes during moments of great joy and happiness, when I realize how greatly I have been blessed way beyond what I truly deserve. The call may be a voice urging us from within or it can be the plea of someone in need. For me, I am usually aware of the call during times of prayer and reflection. The call may be an invitation. Sometimes it is a question. We do not get just one call in our lifetimes. Christ asked Peter several times if he loved him. I have had several calls in my lifetime. Sometimes, I stray and I need to go back. At other times, I had moved to new place or a new job and the Lord would ask of me something different. At still other times, I come to a new realization and awareness and the Lord brings our relationship to a higher level.
After each call, the Lord awaits for my response. He leaves me with my freedom and it is totally up to me to answer YES or to say NO. And he lays it down clearly: if you would follow me, be ready to take up the cross; if you would be my disciple, sell what you have and give to the poor; if you would be first, then you should be willing to be last. What a stark contrast to the blandishments of the world that promises an easy life, wealth, power and glory. Downward mobility (the way of Christ) versus upward mobility (the way of the world). When I say NO, I could still feel Him lingering around in the off chance that I would change my mind. If I say YES, then he replies “I have something I want you to do for me.”
That “something to do” that Christ asks of me is my mission. The mission is pretty much simple. he summarized it in one word through his great commandment: Love! But that love takes various forms and is expressed in various ways. And Christ spelled that out too for us: feed my lambs, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and the homeless, visit those in prisons and the lonely. He asked nothing for himself but asked that we do everything we want done for ourselves to our neighbors. I have done a whole range of things in living out what I felt was my mission: from doing significant things for people and organizations to simple things like being a cook and a driver for my grandchildren.
This is the dynamics of my relationship with God. He gave me ears to hear his call and eyes to see my neighbors in need. When I respond to his invitation, he fills my heart with love. In mission, he sends me forth to give my hands and my heart to help and serve others.