30 — The Charge to St. Peter.

The Charge to St. Peter.

Read St. John xxi.  17.

[17] He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep*.

1.  A second and a third time Jesus puts the same question to St. Peter: “Lovest thou Me?” How anxious He is for our love!  This is one of the mysteries of the love of Jesus, that He actually longs that I should love Him, and is athirst for my love.  What wonderful condescension for the King of kings to be eager for the affection of a poor worm like me!  Yet so it is.  I must take Him at His word, and give Him all the love of my heart to satisfy His Divine love for me.

2.  Each time in answer to Peter’s reply Jesus again confirms his appointment made long before, to be the first Pastor of the flock of Christ.  Note that He says each time, “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep.”  They are not Peter’s, but Christ’s.  So we must remember that if we are in any authority, our subjects are not ours, but Christ’s; our children, servants, pupils, are His, and to Him we shall have to give account for our treatment of them.

3.  The third time that St. Peter was asked the question he was grieved.  The triple question reminded him of his triple denial of Jesus, and besides it seemed as if Jesus doubted his love.  But it was not so.  Jesus saw into his heart and knew the love that burned there: He desired to elicit from St. Peter a fresh declaration of his love.  Christ is pleased to hear us repeat again and again the protestations of our love: “Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

Challoner note to verse [17] Feed my sheep: Our Lord had promised the spiritual supremacy to St. Peter; St. Matt. 16. 19; and here he fulfills that promise, by charging him with the superintendency of all his sheep, without exception; and consequently of his whole flock, that is, of his own church.


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