Today's readings can be found: [HERE]
Our gospel passage today (Jn. 21:15-19) convict me, in a certain sense, filling me with a deep and definite sorrow. The priesthood exists to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Mass. "Do this in memory of me," says the Lord. Certainly, the Mass is the culmination of all of our attempts at ministry. It is the greatest expression of our purpose as priests: to bring Jesus Christ into the world in the most perfect way possible--in the Eucharist.
But this Eucharist has a very specific purpose in the plan of God. As God gave his people manna in the desert at the time of Moses, the Eucharist is meant to be eaten by the people of God in every age.
In our gospel passage, Jesus gives Peter a very simple command, repeated three times: "Feed my lambs;" "Tend my sheep;" "Feed my sheep." If Peter truly loved Jesus, he would do this. Jesus never said, "count my sheep." He said, "Feed my sheep." Jesus never said, "Entertain my sheep;" he said, "Tend my sheep."
To express his love for the Lord, and to be reconciled to him after his three-fold betrayal, Peter was called to feed Christ's lambs. That was it. Pure and simple. No mention of stewardship; no mention of online ministries; no viral memes.
Tragically, until only very recently, I failed to carry out that simple request from Jesus. How often have I feasted on the Bread of Life these last months alone, while Christ's flock hungered?
Jesus predicted that Peter himself would be restrained at some point: "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
Likewise, the tragedy of these modern circumstances have retrained me and many of my brothers from carrying out that first priority given to us by our Master and Lord at the seashore: "Feed my sheep".
But the heavens have been opened once again to the many; no longer limited to the privileged few, and I am profoundly grateful to God for this. May they never be closed again.