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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bernard on Peter and John

St. Bernard of Clairvaux has a fascinating sermon on two aspects of love regarding St. John and St. Peter. St. Bernard,  in St. Peter and St. John, XLI, In Joannic Evang; Tract CXXIV.  Bernard says the Peter loved Christ more than John, but that Christ loved John more than He did Peter. This is a great mystery, but Bernard breaks down the problem by stating that Peter represents the Church Militant, the Church on earth and John represents the Church Triumphant in heaven.

What does Bernard mean? He explains that the two types reveal how we Catholics are in our relationship to Christ on earth and in heaven. Peter, who is full of zeal, is the Head of the Church and must organize, protect and lead. John, who is resting on the breast of Christ, represents the soul in heaven, abiding in the love of God for all eternity.

Peter is all action and progress. John is rest and reflection.

Bernard uses the typical approach to the Scriptures in which persons are seen as "types" or even in "allegories" regarding spiritual truths. The great mystic gives us much to think upon in this sermon.