“Simon, son of John, do you love me? … Feed my sheep.”
Today’s Gospel has had an impact on my life for many years now … at least 13, if my memory serves me correct.
It was 13 years ago that a newly ordained priest was starting his first assignment at my then-home parish. I had never before met a priest like him – young, full of joy and laughter and, most important to me (at the time), actively involved in youth ministry.
Throughout his four years at my home parish, I saw the ministry of the priesthood up close and personal for the first time. I saw a man who truly laid down his life at the service of ALL of God’s people. And I was introduced to the person of Jesus Christ through him.
My personal journey of discipleship started when I was in high school and this priest played a huge role, simply by his willingness to be present and listen to us young people. He has since continued to walk with me on my journey of discipleship, well into my adult years. While he has long moved on from my home parish, I still find myself reaching out to share joys, triumphs, struggles and burdens.
What does this priest have to do with today’s Gospel? Well, for his priesthood verse/theme, he selected the above verse from John. I still remember the day he handed us his priesthood card with that verse on the back and I can still tell you exactly where that priesthood card is. He was … and still is … the embodiment of what feeding His sheep looks like. Not only does he feed God’s sheep by offering up the sacrifice of the Mass and nourishing us spiritually with the Eucharist but also in so many other ways that would exceed my word count for this blog alone.
Now as a youth minister, I can relate to this same verse as I strive to feed the young people of today’s Church. And, in a beautiful way, I am reminded of this task every time I step into my church building for those same words, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? … Feed my sheep” are written on an arch above the choir loft in my church.
This call to feed God’s sheep is a call for each one of us in our different vocations and states of life. Priests are called in a very concrete and intentional way to offer up the Body and Blood of Christ for our sake. Other religious men and women are called to serve the Church in different ministries of prayer and service, etc., all of which nourish the whole Church as the Body of Christ. Married couples are called to feed their children not only physically but also spiritually as the first educators of the faith. And single men and women are called to serve the Church in a variety of different ways that share God’s love with all people.
How are you being called to feed His sheep?
Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.
Feature Image Credit: Arthur Mazi, https://unsplash.com/photos/XFI3zNu5Ba4