September 26 Gospel Reading

John 21:15-25

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Augustine the Blessed in his Sermon 88 said:

“What sayest Thou, O Lord, Thou good Shepherd? For You are the good Shepherd, who art also the good Lamb; at once Pastor and Pasturage, at once Lamb and Lion. What sayest Thou? Let us give ear and aid us, that we may understand. ‘I,’ says He, ‘am the good Shepherd.’ What is Peter? Is he either not a shepherd, or a bad one? Let us see, if he be not a shepherd. ‘Do you love Me?’ ‘You said to Him Lord, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he answered, ‘I do love You.’ And Thou to Him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ Thou, You, Lord, by Your Own questioning, by the strong assurance of Your Own words, made of the lover a shepherd. He is a shepherd then to whom You committed Your sheep to be fed. You Yourself entrusted them, he is a shepherd. Let us now see whether he be not a good one. This we find by the very question, and his answer. You asked, whether he loved you; he answered, ‘I do love You.’ Thou saw his heart, that he answered truth. Is he not then good, who loves so great a Good? Whence that answer drawn from his inmost heart? Wherefore was this Peter, who had Your eyes in his heart for witnesses, sad because you asked him not once only, but a second and third time, that by a threefold confession of love, he might efface the threefold sin of denial; wherefore, I say, being sad that he was asked repeatedly by Him who knew what He was asking, and had given what He heard; wherefore being sad, did he return such an answer, ‘Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You”? What! In making such a confession, such a profession rather, would he lie? In truth then, he made answer of his love to You, and from his inmost heart he gave utterance to a lover’s words. Now you have said, ‘A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things.’ So then he is both a shepherd, and a good shepherd; nothing it is true to the power and goodness of the Shepherd of shepherds; but nevertheless even he is both a shepherd, and a good one; and all other such are good shepherds.”

(This icon is from 3rd c. Catacombs of Rome)

Leo the Great in his Sermon 63 said:

“…to the blessed Peter first and foremost He says, ‘Feed my sheep;’ yet the one Lord directs charge of all the shepherd, and feeds those that come to the rock with such glad and well-watered pastures, that countless sheep are nourished by the richness of His love, and hesitate not to perish for the Shepherd’s sake, even as the good Shepherd Himself was content to lay down His life for His sheep. It is He whose sufferings are shared not only by the martyrs’ glorious courage, but also in the very act of regeneration by the faith of all the newborn. For the renunciation of the devil and belief in God, the passing from the old state into the newness of life, the casting off of the earthly image, and the putting on of the heavenly form — all this is a sort of dying and rising again, whereby he that is received by Christ and receives Christ is not the same after he was before he came to the font, for the body of the regenerate becomes the flesh of the Crucified.”

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily 88 on the Gospel of John said:

“There are indeed many other things which are able to give us boldness toward God, and to show us bright and approved, but that which most of all brings good will from on high, is tender care for our neighbor. Which therefore Christ requires of Peter. For when their eating was ended, Jesus says to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these? He says unto Him, Yea, Lord, You know that I love You.’ ‘He says unto Him, Feed My sheep.'”

“…why…does He speak with Peter on these matters? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul went up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away. Jesus puts into his hands the chief authority among the brethren; and He brings not forward the denial, nor reproaches him with what had taken place, but says, ‘If you love me, preside over your brethren, and the warm love which you ever manifested, and in which you rejoiced, show thou now; and the life which you said you would lay down for Me, now give for My sheep.'”

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