Jerusalem, April 1--Christians worldwide are reeling from the news that Jesus, in instructing his apostle Peter to "feed my sheep," was not referring to humans but simply wanted his profitable Merino ewes taken care of. The phrase from John 21:17 has been considered Christ's foundational command to create the entire Christian Church.In a rare pre-Second Coming press conference in the fields of Galilee, Jesus complained that his prize flock had suffered at the disciple's hands. "All I wanted was for Peter to toss Lambchop, Dolly, and Shmuley a little hay in the cold months, see to it they had enough water, make sure they didn't eat any poisonous crabgrass. I mean, what kind of Good Shepherd would I be if dependable wool-bearers like Curly and Jebediah had tummy trouble?""But Peter's always had this annoying tendency to interpret everything I say symbolically," the Lord lamented. "I mean, I hear there's this big building in Rome now, a whole network of programs related to me. Apparently Peter thought he was supposed to nourish people with my Holy Word and build a church or something. Where does he come up with this stuff? All the while, my poor lambs were suffering. And, incidentally, producing low-quality, patchy wool."The implications of this revelation "are staggering," says Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, leader of Washington D.C.'s Catholic archdiocese. "All through the centuries, we assumed Our Lord wanted His Church to "feed" people--not livestock--by preaching the gospel. What now? Should we buy farms and just study early Palestinian animal husbandry?" Seeking more advice, His Eminence has put in a call to the Michigan Sheep Breeders' Association."In the 21st century, any well-educated Christian knows that we must read the Bible as metaphor," says Lutheran scholar Marcus Borg. "So I must say I'm floored that Jesus wasn't constructing an elaborate simile about protecting people crushed by unjust domination systems. Boy, is my face red! I'm off to the Feed & Seed to buy some hay."

"People complain a lot about taking the Bible too literally," says fundamentalist cartoonist Jack Chick. "But this is clearly a case where we should have taken the Lord at his word."

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