The present reading from the holy gospel (John 21:15-19) commends to us the virtue of perfect love. Perfect love is that by which we are ordered to love the Lord with our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. Neither of these two kinds of love is capable of being perfect without the other, because God cannot be loved apart from our neighbor, nor our neighbor apart from God.
Hence as many times as Peter was asked by our Lord if he loved him, and he answered that he was a witness that he loved him, the Lord added at the end of each inquiry feed my sheep or feed my lambs, as if he were clearly saying ‘there is only one true proof of wholehearted love of God-if you strive to exercise care by laboring solicitously on behalf of your brothers.’
Now whoever neglects to commit himself to practicing the work of piety toward his brother to the extent of his ability shows that he loves his Maker less than he should, for he is scorning Christ’s commandment concerning support of his neighbor in his time of need.
Bede the Venerable
Homily for Sts. Peter and Paul