Friday of the Seventh week of Easter
“ A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep ” (Jn 10,11)
That which most of all brings good will from on high is tender care for our neighbor. Which is what Christ required of Peter. For when they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter : “ 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these ?' And he said to him : 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' And Jesus said to him : 'Feed my lambs.' ” Now why, passing over the others, does he speak to Peter on these matters ? It was because Peter was the chosen one of the apostles, the mouthpiece for the disciples, the leader of their band ; and that is also why Paul went on one occasion to enquire of him rather than of the others (Gal 1,18). To assure Peter that he should take heart and that his denial is done away with, Jesus now gives him the first place among his brethren. He makes no allusion to his denial nor humiliates him on account of what is past. “ If you love me, ” he says, “ stand at the head of your brethren ; and prove now the ardent love for me that you have always so joyfully shown. The life that you said you would lay down for me, now give for my sheep ”...
But Peter was troubled by the thought that he might imagine himself to be loving them while not really loving. 'Just as I was formerly so sure of myself and confident,' he thought, 'so now I am ashamed.' But Jesus questioned him three times and three times gave him the same charge. Thus he showed him what value he gave to caring for his lambs, because this is what gives greatest proof of our love for him.
Saint John Chrysostom