When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter felt hurt because he said to him the 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Are you married or engaged? A parent or grandparent? Surely you are a daughter or son, maybe even a sister or brother? Every one of us learns, many times over, that love is on full display in our relationships with others. What’s so gorgeous—and challenging!—about love is its countless proofs, dimensions and subtleties; as a new mom, seeing my baby son smile at me brings me joy and peace unlike any other—the source of which, I believe, is Divine.
In today’s reading, the Divine Author of Love shows us what love is, and what love does. It starts ever so tenderly when Jesus addresses Peter as “Simon, son of John,” connecting him to his father. (Imagine Jesus calling you by name, as son or daughter of your father’s name—it’s gripping.) Then, each time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and Peter says yes, Jesus tells him how he must love: by caring for others. This conversation brings Matthew 22: 37-40 to mind: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
In his final response, Jesus didn’t spare Peter any details in how far he’d have to go in love. He would be led where he couldn’t imagine; suffering was imminent. And the only way for Peter to endure it is by following his Lord.
Where does Jesus ask you to show love? When does it feel easy for you, and when do you struggle? Can you see love in the midst of suffering? Ask Jesus in prayer today for the grace to follow him.
—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and seven-month-old son.
The higher the love, the more demands will be made on us to conform to that ideal.
—Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. SheenPlease share the Good Word with your friends!