In the AGE Newspaper, there was a news about SCOTSMAN credited to be the one inventing the world’s first automatic cash machine (ATM), who died at the age of 84 after a short illness. John Shepherd-Barron started thinking about how to obtain cash outside business hours after being locked out of his bank, and the eureka moment came when he was in the bath. ”It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money anywhere in the world or the UK” he said when he was interviewed in 2007.
We might not be curious of who really is the one inventing the ATM but we are all enjoying it now. We are enjoying because we can access to our account anytime we want, anywhere in the world. It saves us from queuing in to the banks to withdraw cash. In short, it makes our lives easier and faster, in some sense.
But what does ATM have to do with our readings today?
In the gospel, Peter is under scrutiny. Jesus is about to entrust to Peter his role as shepherd. He is about to delegate to Peter the leadership role to his people. But to be sure and to let Peter know how serious the task is, he asks Peter 1 basic question that either can make or break him. “Simon, Son of John, do you love me, more than these others do?” Peter answered readily, “yes Lord, you know that I love you.” And the same question is repeated 3 times. Peter confessed his 3-fold yes to affirm his love of Jesus. Francis Moloney, in Sacra Pagina, to comment John’s gospel writes that “major reason for Jesus demanding a 3-fold confession of love is obviously Peter’s 3-fold denial of Jesus at the outset of the passion narrative. But here Jesus demands more, he wants to know if Peter really has something basic in him that would motivate him to accept the task of shepherding, if he really loves Jesus.
The ATM does not give us money, we have to put money in the bank first, and that we can only get as much as we have invested. Otherwise we’ll be in trouble.
Likewise, Jesus wants to know how much love Peter has for him, because he is about to make him the leader of his flock. He desires that a shepherd after him should also have a love like he does to his sheep, because love motivates everything. If Peter does not have enough love of him, he would then not be able to love the flock as Jesus does more so of laying down his life for the sheep. The amount of love that Peter has for Jesus is the same amount that Peter can give to the People he leads. In a way Jesus is measuring Peter’s love, if his is a real love.
Thomas Merton says that the measure should be the love without limit. In other words, the measure of love is love without measure. And we can find this love in Jesus.
Paul, in the Acts of the Apostles is put to prison because he loves Jesus so much that he could not stop talking and preaching about him, day and night, anywhere he went, to the extent that he annoyed both the Jewish Elders and the Religious authorities. He has so much love that eventually led him to suffer much, though he bore without complain, in the name of Jesus. Even behind bars, he could not stop talking about Jesus that he wrote to all churches everything he wanted to tell them about his experience and his love of Jesus.
Just as ATM makes our lives easier, our Love of Jesus, our Yes to him, can also do so, even more. Our yes to him makes our lives worth-living and more meaningful. But again, it depends on how much love we invest in there.
As Christian leaders now, or a future shepherd of God’s flock, we should reflect again our “yes” our “love” of Jesus. Is this love enough to sustain us in our journey. Is this enough, for Jesus to entrust us the role of shepherding his flock?
Let us check the ATM of our life. How much love we have there? Does it have more than enough Love of Jesus that we can give and share to everyone who needs to be fed and be loved? And do we bring this love anywhere, anytime, that we can easily give it to people who need it? Lastly does this love make us ready to face and embrace the cross of Jesus?