After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
It is love that is at the heart of human life. It makes us live and is capable of resurrecting us from death. It is in this love that God acts and that we are called to act. The deeper our love, the better and richer our commitment. Giving our life in this love, though painful in the process, it will be seen as a moment of joy and happiness, once the loved one get rejuvenated. Jesus showed us this path of love in his death and resurrection and Peter faithfully followed it in his own death.
Today, Paul is happy to be judged by the emperor, because he finds in this judgement an opportunity to witness to his love for the Lord. The Holy Spirit which guides him in every moment of life, helps him to see the invisible elements of life, the truth of God’s presence and accompaniment. Thus, the persecution for the faith is considered, even in the pain and suffering, as a precious gift that he will never ignore. For Paul, as for Peter, dying for the Lord is a way of following Jesus and a fruit of their faithfulness to the love of their Master.
Action of the day: Be a shepherd in the image of Christ.
«Do you love me more than these?»
Fr. Habel Jadera
Today, Gospel tells us another story of Jesus’ appearance to His disciples. Intensely, the dialogue between Jesus and Peter illustrates God's mercy as a great love for the disciples and the world. This is not a common dialog between Jesus and His disciple, Peter. Both Jesus and Peter talk about love according to their perspectives. Jesus’ three questions: «Do you love me more than these?» could be seen as His act of reaffirming Peter's twofold status: as a disciple who loves Him more than others do, and as a disciple who loves Him more than he loves his fellow disciples. Indeed, Jesus’ great act of love requires a depth response from Peter.
By answering «Yes, Lord, you know that I love you», Simon seems to understand his three times failures in denying Jesus, Son of God who stands in front of him, who says to the disciples «don’t be afraid», «peace be unto you» (cf. Jn 14:27; 20:19).
Jesus concludes this important dialog with the affirmation of Peter's task and the authorities which have been given before (cf. Mt 16:18-20). Especially, when Jesus said, «Look after my sheep». Regarding this fulfillment of Jesus' commissions, it requires an extraordinary love, the love that is missionary in spirit. This missionary love must be going forth, as Pope Francis says «love creates bonds and expands existence, for it draws people out of themselves and towards others».
Jesus ensures this basic characteristic of love that is missionary to be His shepherds: To love Him more than anything. Finally, as Jesus' disciples, we are all called to guarantee that the «law of ecstasy» is operated. As Pope Francis notes «the lover goes outside the self to find a fuller existence in another». Missionary love encourages us of moving beyond ourselves!