“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He then said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21: 15-17, NAB)
I have been reading a book lately by Sara Miles, entitled, “Take This Bread.” It is a spiritual memoir about a woman who was raised as an atheist, discovered faith when she received communion at an Episcopal church in San Francisco. I am still in the middle of the book, but one segment caught my attention, or perhaps the Holy Spirit grabbed me and had me focus on this story. Ms. Miles recounts her reflecting on the above passage from the Gospel of John. It results with her starting a food pantry in her church.
Most Catholics reading this passage would see it as Jesus turning the care of his Church over to Peter, and his successors. But what if we were to apply Christ’s command, “Feed my sheep,” to us? We see in one of the other gospels, that to enter the Kingdom of God, one has to give drink to the thirsty, to feed the hungry, for when we do this for the poor, we are doing it for Christ.
So this is the challenge to us, to me, to feed those who are hungry. And we only have to read the papers, or watch the news to see how desperate the need is in our country, in our communities, because of today’s economy. But it is because of this bad economy, that I am saying, “I am living paycheck to paycheck, I just have enough to keep food on my table!” Jesus comes right back at me with the story of the widow’s mite. He praised the widow for giving only two copper coins to support the Temple, for she gave out of her want, while others gave from their surplus. So I, and all of us, am being challenged to give from our want, to help those who are in even greater need.
So now I am committing myself to bringing at least a few cans of food to a food pantry being run by the Franciscans at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA. And I am going to try to be open to every opportunity to serve the hungry, to answer Christ’s command, “Feed my sheep.”