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Augustine on Saint Peter’s profession of love for Christ

May 22, 2021

The Lord appeared once again to his disciples after his resurrection, and questioning Peter, who from fear had thrice denied him, extracted from him a threefold declaration of love. Christ had been raised to life in the flesh and Peter to life in the spirit; for when Christ died as a result of the torments he endured, Peter was also dead as a result of denying his master. Christ the Lord was raised from the dead; Christ the Lord raised up Peter through Peter’s love for him. And having obtained from him the assurance of that love, he entrusted his sheep to Peter’s care.

We may wonder what advantage there could be for Christ in Peter’s love for him. If Christ loves you, you profit, not Christ; and if you love him, again the advantage is yours, not his. But wishing to show us how we should demonstrate our love for him, Christ the Lord made it plain that it is by our concern for his sheep.

“Simon, son of John, Do you love me?” he asked. “I do love you.” “Then feed my sheep.” Once, twice, and a third time the same dialogue was repeated. To the Lord’s one and only question, Peter had no other answer than “I do love you.” And each time the Lord gave Peter the same command: “Feed my sheep.” Let us love one another then, and by so doing we shall be loving Christ.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Guelferbytanus Sermon 16,1, via DailyGospel.org