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Sport 28: Autumn 2002

Jo Randerson — Being Sure About Friends

page 132

Jo Randerson

Being Sure About Friends

you were my friend
you are my friend
that at the third asking, I should have said, ‘Are you my friend?’

After dinner Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than all else?’

‘Yes Lord,’ he answered, ‘You know that I love you.’

‘Then feed my lambs.’

A second time Jesus asked, ‘Simon, son of John. do you love me’

The answer came, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’

‘Then tend my sheep.’

A third time he asked, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me Peter was hurt that he asked him a third time.

‘Lord,’ he said, ‘You know everything: you know love you Jesus said, ‘Then why do you not feed my sheep?

Simon was flummoxed but Jesus continued: ‘And further you this in very truth: when you were young you fastened you be around you and walked where you chose; but when you are old your will stretch out your arms and a stranger will bind you fast, and you where you have no wish to go.’

The disciples were shocked and confused by this. Jesus head spoken of such things before. They leaned in quietly to each other and Matthew, still seething from the Temple incident, whispered tell you this in very truth, an inextinguishable flame of hatred within me daily, and not a moment passeth where a plague house is not far from my tongue; his torture and execution would a joy to me. I curse him from the bitterest harbours of my soul, why? page 133 That a woman coming to him for help was betrayed and her sheep were slaughtered.’

And, in sudden understanding of Jesus's words, he raised his voice and said to Our Lord, ‘You are the stranger who has bound us, you have carried us far from home, you yourself are the fair-weather friend who holds our happiness in such low regard.’

And he downed two bottles of wine in quick succession, turned on his heel and departed, leaving his cloak behind in the furore.

Jesus quickly called, ‘Who are our friends? Who are our enemies? These questions are of fundamental importance!’ (he was hoping to catch the crowd), but the disciples were torn and unsettled, they were not yet ready to hear these ideas. Simon grabbed Matthew's cloak and chased after him; the situation slipped rapidly out of Our Lord's grasp.

Jesus sighed and turned to me.

‘They feel I have lost my way. They want me to go back to the leaves and fishes days: even Simon Peter, whom I trusted, prays daily for my return to the flock.’

He flung his gaze to the sky.

Don't they understand? There is no flock. There is only sheep, or grass. One is a friend and the other keeps you alive. I have dined too much this lifetime and not walked far enough. If anyone asks, say I am resting on that hillock over there.’

And while Jesus rested, high in the heavens above, Raphael sighed and said to Lucifer, ‘I always felt we should have sent Jesus down with a friend, someone else who thinks like him.’

Lucifer smiled to himself. Raphael was always harping on about loneliness.

‘Oh, don't worry, Raphael,’ he said, thinking of his well-made and soon-to-be-executed plans, ‘Jesus has a friend coming, Jesus has a very good friend coming, one who thinks exactly like him.’

And while Raphael puzzled over this, Lucifer chuckled to himself, smiling in eager anticipation of conversation, finally, with someone else as clever as he was.