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.
A deepening friendship
In today’s gospel, Jesus and Peter eat breakfast together and then share in conversation. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, and each time, Peter replies that he does love Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ Passion, and here he is given a chance to reaffirm his love and friendship. Their conversation is intimate and deepens their relationship. The simplest acts of eating a meal together and then speaking caring words help to reconcile Jesus and his friend.
We are also invited into further friendship with the Lord, through Eucharist and prayer. An action as simple as sharing a meal with others, or a few carefully chosen caring words, can also heal and lead to reconciliation with other people in our lives. How do I want to answer Jesus’ inviting question— “do you love me?”—and show that love in action today?
—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.
Lord, no matter how far we may sometimes move away from you, you await and extend a constant invitation of love to us. Lord, help me to recognize you in Eucharist, in Scripture and in the breaking of bread and sharing of conversation with family, friends, and community. Break open also my own heart, that I may share my deepest concerns and even my very self with you, just as you have shared of yourself with me. Help me to bring the love and attentiveness that I receive from you into my actions with others in my life today. Amen.