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Sunday, March 20

Reflection: Do I truly put Christ first? 

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.” 

John 21:15 

I was fortunate to be part of the St. John’s group that toured the Holy Land in January of 2015, and my hope was to feel closely connected to the living Christ versus just seeing the historical sites The day we spent along the Sea of Galilee was where I found my closest connection to Jesus as I imagined him among the disciples and crowds teaching, healing, and feeding them.

One of those sites was the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy, which is built on the beach purported to be where Jesus cooked breakfast for the disciples after his resurrection. The church is built over half of the rock upon which it’s believed they ate, with the other half of the rock extending out onto the open beach.

While my group moved into the church, I chose to sit on the beachside rock and imagine being pre-sent with Jesus and the disciples. The Gospel of John tells of how Jesus asked Peter after breakfast if he loved him “more than these.” As I pondered that question for myself, it became clear that Je-sus is asking if I love him not only more than my closest companions, but also more than all the things I am attached to: security, identity, com-fort, etc. Do I truly put Christ first in all parts of my life?

Peter had just jumped from a boat and swum to the shore to embrace Jesus as Lord, and Jesus still asks him three times if he loves him, which re-flects Peter’s three denials of Jesus prior to the crucifixion. Where do I rush to claim Jesus as Lord? And, where do I deny Jesus by not always putting him at the forefront of my life?

The church is called Peter’s Primacy because Je-sus’ affirmation restored Peter as the “rock” who will build Christ’s church (Matthew 16:18.) He says to Peter, “Feed my lambs,” which is about giving Peter purpose in ministry. As I sat on that rock, it was with this thought that I asked, “Lord, what is my purpose for ministry?”

I sat in silence hoping to get a clear answer and out of the silence came the message, “What you are doing is purpose-ful.” I was refreshed and joyful to receive the affirming word of Christ in the way I imagine Peter felt that morning on the beach.

Lord Christ, give me the courage to keep you at the forefront of my life trusting that all of my needs are met in you. Give me strength to live a life of purposeful ministry by sharing the love, grace, and mercy you provide. Amen. 

Mark Ritchie 

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