When during my ordination I got up to my knees again after lying face down on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica, from my angle as I looked up at the Successor of Peter before the main altar I could see over his head the inscription high above in huge mosaic letters: “Domine, tu omnia nosti: tu scis, quia amo te. Dixit ei: Pasce oves meas.” The dialogue wraps around part of the basilica.
Ever after, when that dialogue comes up in the readings of Mass, it chokes me up a little.
It came up today in the Extraordinary Form’s Mass for the Vigil of Sts. Peter and Paul:
At that time, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these do? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs. He said to him a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs. A third time He said to him, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him for the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were young you girded yourself and walked where you would. But when you are old you will stretch forth your hands, and another will gird you, and lead you where you would not. Now this He said to signify by what manner of death he should glorify God.
I think that this, more than any other bit of scripture, can get me to sobbing. What is it about “feed my sheep…feed my lambs.”??
Interesting to note that looking at the Vulgate will show 2 different uses of the word love. The subtlety is lost in the english translation. Maybe Father can talk about the meaning behind this.
diligis, diligis, amas
Father, I never thought of priests choking up a bit at this scripture – how romantic!
God bless you, Father, as you do feed us, little dumb sheep, daily, on this blog.
I have a special place in my heart for St. Peter… Just reflecting on him and what we know is enough to make me choke up. A strong, uneducated fisherman raised up by God in spite of his rashness, his pride, his human weakness and denial of Jesus, to be the Rock. It gives great hope and relief, and faith in the love of God for us all, the sinners of the world.
Yes, I get a little choked up over this passage of Scripture, too. I especially remember it when it was chanted in Latin at the funeral Mass for Blessed John Paul II in 2005.
I have a special place in my heart for St. Peter. He was a bumbling, impulsive, leaping-before-looking, forever-putting-his-foot-in-his-mouth fisherman.
And just think, Our Lord took him back in a three-fold affirmation of love, after Peter had denied Him three times! And He placed in Peter’s care the flock that would become His Church! Amazing!
@ Supertradmum: I echo your words of gratitude. Thank YOU, Father Z, for feeding us poor little sheep….!
A blessed Feast of Saints Peter and Paul to you!