In John 21:15-17, we find the following words: "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." A second time he said to him, "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 the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the 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." (RSV)
In the First Vatican Council, these verses were cited in defining that Jesus after his resurrection gave Peter the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock. (Footnote in NAB)
At the Annual Regional meeting, reference was made to these verses also. "Feed my sheep" has application in our Order. We, that is members of OFS Fraternities, are all called to Leadership, in order to keep our Fraternity alive. When a slate is formed of willing candidates for one office or ministry or another, we are all called to "Feed my Sheep." Yes, it is much easier to hide in the back and let someone else do it. But that is not what Franciscans are all about, you see. For people who want to excel for the Lord in the way of St. Francis, we just aren't the type of people to say "Call me next time", right? We volunteer our time and effort for Jesus, for St. Francis, and most of all, for sisters and brothers in our Fraternities! Feed my Sheep! Yes!
Also, I've heard so often ... 'oh, but I am not worthy to step up to the plate' ... I do not care all that much for people who use that excuse, because it just isn't true. You are made in the image of the Lord, so you are worthy! Take my word for it! All it takes is a prayer and then you act with the help of the Holy Spirit. Feed your flock! Your Flock! The Fraternity!
The Fraternity is home! A [Canonically Established] Fraternity is a special place. A priviledged place. It is not a place where we go to have socials, but socials can be a part of our program. The most important part of our program is prayer, formation, fellowship, and a host of other things, including some business matters. It is a place where members share with one another, and share with those may be there for the first time. Make all feel welcome. Tell your face that you are happy to meet others. So smile! It's not that hard. Feed My Sheep, in every aspect, but most of all, be Christ to them!
Fr. Kevin Queally, TOR, reminded us of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are enabled by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity
Let's apply these gifts in our daily life, and it will favorably affect the way we treat other people! I come back on my favorite Dutch word "Medeleven" - which means, "Compassion" but more in the sense of 'walking in the other persons shoes' - that's what St. Francis did all the time, and until we do this, we cannot feel what the other person feels and we cannot help them feel better! We are able to minister to other people through our spiritual gifts, through the teaching of Saint Francis, with joy and enthusiasm. That's the Franciscan way.
So we've got to loosen up! Let's make our Fraternities place of charity, kindness, peace and most of all Franciscan Joy. God's love is Franciscan Joy! “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” Bl. Mother Teresa. St. Francis would agree with her!
Jesus said, "Feed My Sheep" - let's DO IT!
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS