Bishops and Metropolitans

As we in the Orthodox Church in America prepare to elect a new Metropolitan, we can contemplate the words of St. Augustine (d. 430AD):

“When you hear the words: ‘Peter do you love me?’ (John 21:15) imagine you are in front of a mirror and looking at yourself.  Peter, surely, was a symbol of the Church. Therefore the Lord in asking Peter is asking us too. To show that Peter was a symbol of the Church remember the passage in the Gospel: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 16:18) Has only one man received those keys? Christ himself explains what they are for: ‘Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matt. 18:18) If these words had been said only to Peter, now that he is dead who would ever be able to bind or loose? I make bold to say that all of us have received the keys. We bind and loose. And you also bind and loose. Whoever is bound is separated from your community: he is bound by you. When he is reconciled, however, he is loosed, thanks to you because you are praying for him. We all in fact love our Lord, we are all his members. And when the Lord entrusts his flock to shepherds, the whole number of shepherds is reduced to one individual body, that of the one Shepherd. (cf. John 10:16) Peter is undeniably a shepherd, but without doubt Paul is also is a shepherd. John is a shepherd, Andrews is a shepherd, each Apostle is a shepherd. All the holy bishops are shepherds, without a shadow of a doubt.” (Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, pgs. 320-321)

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