Does Peter desire to starve certain sheep who dare question and/or oppose his novelties and heterodox praxis?
What are we wee Catholics to think of such a Peter and what sort of Peter is it who would rather his lambs and sheep die of starvation rather than to feed them as he has been commanded to by Jesus Christ?
The great Cornelius a Lapide:
He saith unto him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ Feed, like as a shepherd feeds sheep by leading them to pasture, and by feeding them, rules and guides them that they may not stray from the flock, nor approach noxious pastures, nor be seized by the wolf. Hence to feed in Scripture signifies to rule, and kings are called shepherds, because, if they would rightly rule their subjects, they ought to do what shepherds do when they feed their sheep. Whence—Psalm xxiii. 1—where the Vulgate has ‘the Lord rules me,’ the Hebrew is ‘Adonai roi,’ i.e., the Lord is my shepherd, or feedeth me. Wherefore it goes on, ‘He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.’ Thus David, from a keeper of sheep, was made by God a king of men—to feed, i.e., to rule, Jacob His servant, and Israel His inheritance. (Ps. lxxviii. 71.) Thus Cyrus is called a shepherd, i.e. a prince and king appointed by God—Is xliv. 28—that saith of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd.’ And Ps. ii. 9, ‘Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron.’ Hebrew Tirem, i.e. thou shalt feed them. And generally speaking, the Hebrew raa, the Greek ποίμαινω, and the Latin pasco, signify ‘to rule,’ as may be seen from Mic. v. 2; Act. xx. 28; Rev. ii. 7, and xii. 5, xix. 15. Thus Homer calls the Grecian king Agamemnon ποίμενα λαω̃ν—a shepherd of the people.”
Christ, as the first Shepherd of the sheep, calls here His faithful people at one time sheep, at another, more tenderly, lambs. And that—Firstly, because of the newness of their life, for being regenerate by Baptism they are made as it were young lambs of God. Secondly, because of their lamblike innocence, which by baptism they have obtained, and also on account of their following Christ, who was called by John the Baptist, “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” Therefore the word sheep signifies that Christ is the Shepherd of Christians; the word—lambs—signifies that Christ is their Father, yea indeed their Mother, forasmuch as they are those whom He hath by baptism begotten unto God, and adopted as His own children. Jansen says lambs and sheep, are the same. Whence the Æthiopic version, instead of lambs, has sheep, repeating sheep thrice. Theophylact adds that they are called lambs in order that the very name might indicate those recently converted, and who were tenderer in the faith, of whom there was about to be a great multitude, when the Apostles began to preach. And because these would require greater care, and must be brought up and nourished with greater labour, therefore the Lord saith twice (according to the Vulgate), “feed My lambs,” that by this repetition He might show that He wished Peter to bestow the very greatest care upon them: but those who were stronger in the faith He calls sheep. Again, by lambs He understands simple, faithful souls; by sheep—teachers, pastors, bishops, and apostles, who are, as it were, mothers of the faithful. Thus Bellarmine.
From this place then it is plain that S. Peter and his successor, the Roman Pontiff, is the head and prince of the Church, and that all the faithful, even bishops, patriarchs, and apostles, are subject to him, and ought by him to be fed and ruled. We gather this, first because Christ here interrogates Peter only, and this thrice, as the chief and mouth of the Apostles. So SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius. Moreover Christ here tacitly signifies that Peter loved Him more than the other Apostles, and therefore that he was worthy to succeed Him in the love and care of the flock—that is, of the Church and the faithful. For that power which is not founded upon love comes to naught.
Secondly—this is plain from the word feed, i.e., rule, as I have shown, and from the terms lambs and sheep, for by these words Christ signifies all the members of the Church as it were subject to Himself, the chief Shepherd, for He excepts no one. They therefore who are the sheep of Christ, are likewise the sheep of Peter, for Christ here commits them to him, to be fed and ruled. They therefore who are not Peter’s sheep—namely, heretics—neither are they the sheep of Christ. So all the other Apostles, forasmuch as they were Christ’s sheep, so likewise are they also Peter’s sheep. From whence it was Peter’s right to direct them, to compose their differences, and to govern them in all things. For Christ instituted the most excellent government in His Church, that is the monarchic, both that there might be one Church, and that occasions of schism might be cut off, as S. Cyprian teaches in his book on the unity of the Church. “The primacy,” he says, “is given to Peter, to show that there is one Church of Christ and one chief See;” and S. Jerome says, “Among twelve, one is chosen, that unity might be preserved.” Hear also S. Leontius (Ser. 3, de Assum.): “From the whole world, one Peter is chosen, who is set over the Church, called out of all nations, and over all the Apostles, and all the Fathers of the Church, that although there be in the people of God many priests and many pastors, still Peter may rightly rule all whom Christ also rules in the chief place. A great and wonderful association in His own power, beloved brethren, the Divine condescension gave to this man, and if He wished that anything should be common with him to the other princes of the church, He only gave through him that which He denied not to the rest.”
Hear likewise S. Bernard (L. 3, de Consid. toPope Eugen: towards the end): “They,” i.e., bishops, “have each their own flocks assigned to them, to thee all have been entrusted,—one shepherd for one flock; nor art thou only the one shepherd of all the sheep, but of all the shepherds. Do you ask how I prove this?—from the word of the Lord: for to whom were absolutely and without distinction all the sheep—I say not merely of Bishops, but of Apostles, committed? ‘If thou lovest Me, 0 Peter, feed My sheep;’ which?—the people of this or that city or region or kingdom? ‘My sheep,’ He saith: to what man is it not plain that He did not indicate some only, but assigned all? Nothing is excepted where no distinction is made;” and (III. Cap. Solit. De Major. et Obed.) he says, “Now to us the sheep of Christ were committed through Blessed Peter, as the Lord saith, ‘Feed my sheep,’ making no distinction between these sheep and others, that He might show that that sheep-fold which did not recognise Peter and his successors as pastors and masters, did not belong to Him.” See what has been said on S. Matt. xvi.; see also Bellarmine, who teaches that Christ, by this precept which He gave to Peter, saying, “Feed My sheep,” at the same time founded the Popedom as the Ecclesiastical Head, and gave it to S. Peter and his successors the Bishops of Rome. In chap. xiv. de Pont., he proves that these words were spoken by Christ to Peter only. In chap. xv. he proves that the word—feed—signifies government and power of ruling. In chap. xvi. that sheep signify all the faithful, even the Apostles, and the whole Church: all which things Calvin, Luther, and the heretics deny.