Do You Love Me?Sunday Readings
Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013 (3EasterC)
By Fr. John Foley, S. J.
Podcast of the Sunday Readings
Sunday Bible Study Questions
Lecturas y Comentarios
New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
Jesus asks Peter a question in Sunday’s Gospel. How would you feel if he asked the same question of you?
Here is the story. With Jesus gone, the former disciples were milling around on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius. Actually, Jesus had appeared to disciples twice before, but they did not yet understand. They had not yet received the Holy Spirit and were left at loose ends.
Peter got tired of standing around so he said, I’m going fishing, anybody want to come? They joined him gladly and they fished all night. This is unreasonable from our point of view, but maybe not from theirs. Maybe it was a way to handle stress.
Dawn revealed a man standing on shore.
In the boat, John, the mystic, the one Jesus loved especially well, whispered hoarsely, “It is the Lord”!! Peter hurled himself into the water and wobbled the hundred yards to shore, leaving to someone else the job of bringing in the boat. It seems that Peter, the denier, actually loved Jesus very much
And that is the question. Can you say you love Jesus very much?
He looks at your face and addresses you by your name. “Do you love me more than these?”
Such a question. What will you say? Give the answer to the Lord when you are ready, even if it isn't perfect. Put it into words. Don’t read further till you have done this.
When he hears you answer, listen to him say to you, “Feed my lambs.”
Phew. Thank God the trial is over and you don’t have to deal with any more questions like that.
But he asks you again by name, “Do you love me?”
What does the repeated question do to you? Peter came emotionally unglued and said loudly, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Our hearts go out to him, and also to you since you also have been asked a second time. What is your answer now? Take your time.
“Tend my sheep,” Jesus replies after you answer.
Then, yet again, not just twice but a third time, the tender but unnerving question, before you have had time to settle your mind and heart.
He says your name and asks, “Do you love me?” Let it echo inside you.
Does he suspect that you really do not love him? Consider your daily attitude toward Jesus and toward God. Do not say your answer lightly. Give it quietly in prayer to Jesus, or out loud if you wish. Take your time. Pay attention to how it feels to say it.
Maybe you will reply, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you,” as Peter did. Or do you have another answer? Something like, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I want to love you, but also I want to have a good life. You see the fear and the running away and the distraction I live by—are you going to condemn me for them? I want to love you but maybe not yet.”
Jesus answers, “Feed my lambs.”
Stay with it. Think about it. Pray about it.
Doesn’t it mean that we who are sinful can be part of Jesus’ mission? We don’t have to be perfect? We are forgiven? If the answer is yes, then let us act as the Body of Christ always does.
Feed his lambs.
_________________*Notice that there are two lengths for the Gospel for this Sunday, the long version and the short. Unfortunately, if your parish needs to use the short one, you will not hear the part about the Jesus’ question. You can read it, though, at John 21:15.