June 7, 2019 – Friday 7th Week of Easter
“Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?” – Jn 21: 15
My 5-year-old niece playfully asked my parents, “Tatay, do you love Nanay?” Asking my Papa if he loves Mama. And then she asked in the same way her grand mom, “Nanay, do you love Tatay?” This happened just a week before Papa died.
In the eyes of my niece, perhaps what she was doing was a mere play of asking questions and relaying the answer to both of her grandparents. Yet, the question entails commitment and faithfulness.
The question of Jesus to Peter essentially involves commitment and faithfulness. The three questions of Jesus were not of condemnation and judgment against the unfaithfulness of Peter. However, the question, “Do you love me?” was an affirmation that Peter was loved and forgiven.
This scenario happened after Peter went back to his old life of fishing. Because of so much guilt, fear and disappointment at the event of the arrest of Jesus, which led to his crucifixion and death, Peter and the other disciples retreated back to their old self, to what was familiar because they were afraid of what to come next.
Yet, from that situation of the disciples also, the risen Jesus called them back. This tells us that Jesus would never give up on his friends. God will never give up on us. In fact, in a surprising way, the Lord will stoop down and come to us wherever we are. This is the reason why Jesus appeared on the shore calling Peter and the other disciples to come to the shore once again, that is, to come to Jesus once again and receive his forgiveness and love.
This tells us too that the Lord will come closer to us. He is ready to come down and meet us wherever we will be. The Lord shall come to us in our dark moments, in times of our depression and sadness, even in times of great confusion and doubts, and in times of anger and hate. The Lord is always ready to do that because he wants us to live free from those.
Thus, the question of Jesus, “Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?” refers to that attitude of Peter. Jesus was basically asking Peter, “Simon, do you love me more than your fishing career? More than your fears and doubts? More than your sins and guilt? More than your insecurities? More than your dreams, desires and personal wants?”
Positively, Peter also understood what Jesus was asking. Jesus asked three times to tell Peter of the great responsibility and also of the joy of the meaning of loving Jesus. To feed or tend the lambs and sheep basically means, “Take charge to care and love others.”This reminds us of Peter’s capacity to care and love others as Jesus did on the cross.
To each of us today, we are reminded that when failures and frustrations overwhelm us; never forget that Jesus will always come in a surprising way for us, to draw us back to him. Be mindful, then, of friends and events in your life that will become God’s way of calling us back again. In the same way like Peter, the Lord also asks us, “Do you love me more than these? More than your insecurities and fears, more than your personal wants and ambitions?” Then, the Lord also asks us to take the risk of loving him by being able to love others, to become courageous and confident in loving others. Remember, it is in taking the risk of committing ourselves to love others that we too shall find our true selves.
The Lord knows that each of us has that capacity to love and take care of others. Never be afraid then, never be afraid to love. Never be afraid to express your care and affection towards others. It is in this way that like Peter, we will be able to follow Jesus, who invites us today, to express our love and care to others in the most concrete ways as we have experienced it from Jesus himself. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR