Suffer for My sheep



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from On Episcopal Ordination

ORDINARY TIME, Week 4: Friday

The Son of man has come not to be served, but to serve, and to give his own life as a ransom for many. Consider how the Lord served, and see what kind of servants he bids us to be. He gave his own life as a ransom for many; he ransomed us.

But who of us is fit to ransom anyone? By his blood, by his death we were ransomed from death; and we who lay prostrate were raised up by his humiliation. And yet we, too, have a duty to contribute our meager offerings to his members, for we have become his members. He is the head; we are the body.

In his letter, the apostle John holds up the Lord as our model. Jesus said: Whoever wishes to be the greater among you will be your servant, just as the Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve and to give his own life as ransom for many. So in his exhortation to us to act likewise, John says: Christ laid down his life for us; so we, too, ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

After his resurrection our Lord asked: Peter, do you love me? and Peter replied: I do love you. The question and the answer were repeated three times. And each time the Lord added: Feed my sheep. In other words, if you want to show that you love me, then feed my sheep. What will you give me if you love me, since you look for everything to come from me? Now you know what you are to do if you love me: Feed my sheep. Thus we have the same question and answer once, twice, three times. Do you love me? I do love you. Feed my sheep. Three times Peter had denied in fear; three times he confessed out of love. By his replies and his profession of love, Peter condemned and wiped out his former fear. And so the Lord, after entrusting his sheep to him for the third time, immediately added: When you were a young man, you would gird yourself and go wherever you wished. But when you are old, another will gird you and take you where you do not wish to go. This he spoke signifying by what death he was about to glorify God. Thus he foretold Peter’s own sufferings and crucifixion. By this the Lord suggested that feed my sheep meant suffer for my sheep.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen