Third Sunday of Easter (May 5, 2019)
The risen Jesus appears to his disciples, “children” as he calls them. Once they realize it is the Lord and they come ashore with their tremendous catch, they see that Jesus has prepared breakfast for them. We are privileged to hear a conversation between Jesus and Peter. Three times Jesus asks him, “Simon, do you love me more than these?” We hear Peter eagerly respond: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Peter is right; Jesus already knows that Peter loves him. But Peter needed to hear his own response. Each time Jesus asked, Peter needed to reach deeper within himself for his answer. Jesus wanted Peter to know that his declarations of love were freeing him from the memory of his earlier denials. Jesus wanted Peter to understand that his love for Jesus was able to cover a multitude of human failings.
Peter’s responses restored his faith in himself and made him ready to accept the commission of Jesus: “Tend my sheep.” Peter was freed now to follow Jesus more fully.
Each day Jesus asks us,” (Michael, Sr. Anne, Sr. Jane, each of you), do you love me?” We should welcome Jesus’ question. He already knows our answer. You and I are the ones who need to hear our response. Jesus is helping us to reach deeper within us for our response. He is helping us to reach down through our human failings and find the place within us where the love of God dwells. There we find the grace and courage to tell Jesus, “Lord, you know that I love you.”
In that sacred place deep within us, we find the strength we need to follow Jesus each day. From that sacred place, God’s love desires to flow out and transform us more and more in the image of Jesus. God’s love wants to overflow through us and touch the lives of all we meet each day.
We might learn much if we took Jesus’ question to prayer each day. Let us try not to rush our answer. Let us hold his question and allow it to reach deep within us for a response. When we hear our response, we will learn the power of the new life Jesus has won for us by his death and rising. Then we will be freed to follow Jesus more fully and tend his sheep more lovingly.