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"Peter, do you love Me?"  If you love me, "Tend My sheep." For Christ, tending His sheep is of high value and an unspeakable reward is reserved for him who labors for the sheep. Even among us, we appreciate people who take care of our family members; how much more to care for the sheep whom Christ has purchased with His blood?

"Yes, Lord." Don't just say yes. Prove it. "Tend My sheep." At that time, Christ was showing His great love for His Church; and He wanted Peter to have much zeal to do the same.

"Who is the wise and faithful servant. . ." Of course, Christ knew who was wise and faithful; and He also knew that Peter loved Him. He asked to show forth the rarity of such a character and the greatness of the work. ". . .He will appoint him ruler over all His goods."

"Peter, do you love Me MORE THAN THESE?" If so, "Tend My sheep." Christ did not say fast, sleep on the ground, have long vigils, defend the wrong, take care of orphans, take care of widows. . though all of these are good. But these are the good anybody can do. But to "Tend My sheep", all women and men must withdraw. Only those who surpass all others in excellence must approach "Do you love Me more than these."

To tend Christ's sheep is more difficult than being a shepherd who merely contends with wolves and robbers; they contend against principalities, powers and rulers of darkness. He cares not for sheep but for souls. And, while it is easy to detect the illness of the sheep and cure it, it is not the same with the illness of the human soul. 

It is difficult to discern man's spiritual diseases and, even if we do, it is difficult to convince the patient to take the remedies because the reception of the treatment depends on the will of the patient, not on him who applies the remedy.

For Christians are not permitted forcibly to correct the failings of those who sin, unlike judges who can force criminals against their will . In our case, the wrongdoer must be made better, not by force, but by persuasion.

God rewards those who abstain from evil by their own choice, not out of necessity. Consequently, much skill is required that our patients may be induced to submit willingly to the treatment of the physicians, and not only that, but that they may be grateful also for the cure.

For if anyone, when he is bound, becomes restless, his mischief becomes worse. Showing contempt to advise given him, will make him worse. It is impossible to cure anyone spiritually against his will.

St. John Chrysostom: Treatise Concerning the Christian Priesthood







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