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Peter: Tend My Sheep

Peter: Tend My Sheep December 11, 2020

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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 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.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”-John 21:15-19 NRSV

Peter And A Moment Of Doubt

There is a lot that are going on in the Gospel given above.  It may helpful to oneself in the place of St. Peter to fully understand.  You may recall that when Jesus was on trial, and according to Matthew’s Gospel Peter denied him three times.  In today’s passage Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him.

St Peter, Saint, Iconography, Painting

The significance of this was not lost on Peter as John describes Peter as being in distress about this.  Peter would go on to be the head of the church on earth, and the first Pope in the Church.  This was a moment of restoration and forgiveness.  Christ goes on to tell Peter that he would suffer martyrdom.  Even Popes are sinners and in need of the mercy of God.

St Peter, St Paul'S Outside The Walls

The Need For God’s Mercy

What does this mean for us?  In Matthew 16:18 Christ calls Peter the rock and says that church will be built on him.  Just a few verses later Jesus tells Peter that he is acting contrary to the will of God.  He even denied Jesus!  How many of us have acted contrary to the will of God?  How many of us even denied him?  The bottom line in the life of Peter is about a man who was restored even though he fell from grace.

God’s mercy is greater than anything we have ever done.  Peter went on to lead the early church and feed the sheep.  That is something his successor does today. Is there something that we have done that we think is unforgivable?  Is it worse than denying knowledge of the Lord like St. Peter did?  The mercy of God is free, available, and we all need it.  Don’t delay!

Saint Quotes

He who is chaste in flesh should not be proud, for he should know that he owes the gift of continence to another. –Pope St. Clement I

By Christ’s Passion our weakness was cured. By His Resurrection death was conquered. Still we have to be sorrowful for the world, as well as joyful in the Lord, sorrowful in penance, joyful in gratitude. – St. Ambrose of Milan

To do penance is to bewail the evil we have done, and to do no evil to bewail. – Pope St. Gregory the Great

The saints understood how great an outrage sin is against God. Some of them passed their lives in weeping for their sins. St. Peter wept all his life; he was still weeping at his death. St. Bernard used to say, “Lord! Lord! it is I who fastened You to the Cross!” – St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

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