Well, when I was asked which passage of scripture inspired me to get involved in discipleship it would have to be John 21:15-17. In this passage Jesus asked Peter a question three times (“Peter, do you love me?”) and each time Jesus asked him the question, Peter responded,”yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” The final time Jesus asked Peter the question, “Peter, do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” and in response Jesus replied, “then feed my sheep.”
For us as Catholics, a lot can be said about the importance of these verses-the Petrine Primacy or the redemption Jesus gave Peter for denying him three times during the time of his passion. I guess, now you guys might be wondering “well, what does this have to do with discipleship?”
Well, prior to my time in life teen I was involved in prison ministry. The spiritual poverty that I encountered working with the prisoners and their families can be related to those outside of the prison walls. Although we might not be physically confined, the spiritual poverty is everywhere. There is a hunger and need for God and working with those families, it’s impossible not to see that. You can see the hurt and need for love in their eyes.
Mother Teresa once said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
As Christians we are all called to spread the good news and bring others closer to Christ so that they may be fed. The YOUCAT tells us that “ We are called Christians after Christ, as an expression of our exalted vocation.” “Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit, and comes through the sacraments to share that anointing with us, so we can go forth to make disciples of all nations.” In today’s gospel reading we are reminded that “We are the light of the World.” Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” That’s pretty awesome, right?
Going back to my original question personally, getting to work with those who are put away from society and often forgotten helped me realize that what people truly needed is a friend in Christ. Now, since I’m no longer involved in prison ministry, I’m responding to the call of Christ by offering my time to his youth. The spiritual poverty and the social pressures that they encounter on a daily basis is staggering. I’m not trying to compare convicts to teens (LOL), but it’s hard to live out their faith in a world that denies Christ. So for me, it’s important to aid in providing a place where they can go to grow in their faith and grow closer to Christ.