DAILY MEDITATION: "Do you love me more than these?"
Liturgical day: Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Gospel text (Jn 21,15-19): 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.”
"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!