Last week, I had one of my regular and blessed conversations with one of my longtime and best friends, who has also at times been my pastor and my priest.
He was talking about what it is to be a priest. He spoke of the sharing of Christ’s body, of the way in which we share ourselves in order to feed Christ’s sheep, God’s lambs.
“Feed my sheep.”
I remembered it when I heard about the priest who died. The woman who fed Christ’s sheep, whose last acts were to share out her own body, to bring life out of death, to give out of love the light of life to another.
I thought about her colleague; another priest in the fellowship of all believers, who fed Christ’s sheep, God’s lambs; who gave her life, in the end, to that end.
The grief of those whose lives have been torn and wounded by the violent and ugly deaths of these women is awful; their example of profound priestly sharing out, Christlike giving, beautiful love … is awe-inspiring.
I did not know either of them; I can only imagine that they were living out their regular, everyday calling – “Feed my sheep” – into their last day.
I think, too of the man who killed them, and I am horrified to think of the hunger that destroys hope; the ravenous appetite of anger which ate away at him until he could entertain an inhuman act. I’m not making excuses; but I shudder to think of his return to the woods, knowing what he had done, knowing that he could not live with what he had done. Judas, wretched, unable to take it back; unable to see a way forward. I pray for his soul, too.
But mostly I think of that priest, who shared out her body …