Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Come quickly, O Holy One, and save your flock.

Saint Romanos Melodios (?-c.560), composer of hymns Hymn 34 (SC 128, p.111f.)

Peter's denial

Good Shepherd, who have laid down your life for your sheep (Jn 10,11), come quickly, O holy One, and save your flock... After the meal Christ said: «Children, my dear disciples, this night you will all deny and abandon me» (cf. Jn 16,32). And since all were seized by the same astonishment, Peter exclaimed: «Even though all deny you, I shall not deny you. I shall remain with you and die with you, crying out to you: Come quickly, O Holy One, and save your flock.» «Master, what are you talking about? I deny you? I abandon you and flee? And am I no longer to remember your call and the honor you have shown me? I still call to mind how you washed my feet and do you say: «You will deny me»? Once again I see you coming, carrying a basin, you who uphold the earth and support the sky. With the hands that fashioned me my feet have just been washed, and you assert that I will fall and no longer cry to you: Come quickly, O Holy One, and save your flock ?»... At these words man's Creator answered Peter: «What are you saying, Peter, my friend? You will never deny me? never flee from me? never reject me? I, too, would wish to think so. But your faith is unstable and you do not stand up to temptation. Don't you remember how you might nearly have drowned had I not stretched out my hand to you? You most certainly walked on the sea, as I did myself, but straightaway hesitated and quickly gave way (Mt 14,28f.). Then I ran towards you who were crying out: Come quickly, O Holy One, and save your flock. «See, from now on I tell you: before the cock crows three times you will deny me and, letting yourself be attacked on all sides and your spirit submerged as by the waves of the sea, you will deny me three times. You who cried out to me then and are to weep now will no longer find me stretching out my hand as on the first occasion, for I shall be using it to write a bill of remission on behalf of all Adam's descendants. I will take my visible flesh as paper and my blood as ink to write out the gift I am ceaselessly distributing to those who cry out: Come quickly, O Holy One, and save your flock!»