When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." [John 21:15-17]
Fr. Kaspal at Holy Trinity gave a homily a couple of weeks ago on Christ’s three” Do you love me’s?” and Peter’s three yeses. He said The first “Feed my sheep” refers to the people in the Church. The second refers to the folks who have left the Church or left the side of Christ. The third “Feed my sheep” refers to the people who have never known Christ at all.
I am a sucker for all shepherd/sheep mentions. My heart opens. The tears flow.
And the request--command, really--to feed my sheep is something I struggle with.
Don’t worry, Christ will see to it that the Gospel is spread with or without me for heaven’s sake. But at the same time, we are given our little mission and we are called to fulfill it as best we can to the point of death. So here I am, an ardent (if ever-stumbling) Catholic surrounded by friends who are (mostly) not Catholic, in a culture that is virulently anti-Catholic, and in a Church by whose more vitriolic, nitpicking members I am mortified. They were like sheep without a shepherd. That is all of us, but I have talked to so many people lately, whether it’s porn addiction or a wayward child or ongoing mental torment, who are like sheep without a shepherd and how do you lead them to the Shepherd? You have to be really really lost, and to have really really run out of ideas, to hear the voice of the Shepherd and maybe the most I am ever going to be able to do is to keep people company while they’re stumbling around in the pasture.