Renewed By His Resurrection

From “Homily for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul” (ca. 735)

We must note how cautiously and circumspectly Peter gave testimony to his love… Peter restrained himself in this inquiry of our Lord’s by answering cautiously; Peter remembered that earlier on, when Christ’s passion was drawing near, he attributed greater constancy to himself than he possessed. Peter avowed that he was prepared to go with Christ to prison and to death, when he was not yet capable of admitting under pressure of danger that he knew Christ, and that he had once been with him…

It was with benevolent foresight that our Lord inquired three times of Peter as to whether he loved him, so that by this triple confession [Christ] might free Peter from the chains which bound him as a result of his threefold denial. As often as Peter had denied that he knew Christ, when he was terrified during Christ’s passion, so often was Peter to bear witness that he loved Christ with his whole heart when he had been renewed by his resurrection. By his provident divinely-arranged plan, Christ three times commended his sheep for feeding to Peter as Peter was confessing his love three times. It was fitting that as often as he had wavered in his shepherd’s trust., so often should he be ordered to take care of the shepherd’s members when his shepherd’s trust had been restored…

Having first mentioned the feeding of his sheep, the Lord next added to the chief shepherd the triumph of his suffering by saying, “You will extend your hands and another person will gird you and lead you where you do not wish to go.” …

What was said to Peter, “feed my sheep,” was said to all the apostles. The other apostles were Peter’s equals, but the first place was granted to Peter, so that the unity of the church might be set forth. All are shepherds but one flock is revealed. Then it was fed by all the apostles with harmonious agreement, and ever since it is fed by their successors with joint concern; many of these successors are proven to have glorified their maker by their deaths… Not only these great luminaries of the church, but the great throng of the elect as well, each in his own time, glorifies God by his life or by his death.

The Venerable Bede (ca. 673-735) was an English monk, teacher, and scholar, one of the most influential figures of the early Middle Ages. He was famed in his lifetime for his Biblical commentaries, and is best known today for his great history of the English church and people. His feast day is May 25. This translation is from Lawrence Marton and David Hurst, Bede the Venerable: Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1991).

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