I. The most important question of your life – do you love me?
Prayer before meditation
God our Father, may the words of the Bible awaken in me the hunger for Your mercy, which you so abundantly wish to bestow on me. Christ, You said that where two or three are gathered in Your name, there You will be among them. Let me experience Your presence in our community. Holy Spirit, make my ears able to hear that which the Father says, enlighten my mind to understand the deeds of Christ, and enkndle my heart with Your presence, so that the word may become flesh in my life. Amen.
Passage from the Holy Bible
4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.
15 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.” 16 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.” 17 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.”
(John 21: 4-7, 15-17)
At this meeting with Jesus, Peter did not walk on water; this time, he did not ask for a miracle. Aware of his spiritual “nakedness”, he got dressed before jumping into the water so as to swim to Jesus standing on the shore. He now did not profess, as he did before: “I will lay down my life for You... Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” (…), because he recently learned his weakness to its very depths – that memorable night, when three times he stated that he did not know his Master, that he does not belong to His followers.
But Jesus did not greet him with the question “Why did you do this?”. He did not say: “So you see, you are not as strong as you thought you were!”. That is already in the past, and Jesus does not allow us to dwell in the past. He prepares a breakfast for his followers, and afterwards asks Peter about today and tomorrow: “Do you love me more than these?” Here is the test during the first conclave in history: if someone wants to shepherd the sheep of Jesus, he must love Jesus more than others. Now that you have experienced what the love of Jesus can accomplish, you too can love others with this sort of love: “Tend my sheep.”
This does not mean, however, that wounds from the past does not require healing. One cannot heal evil pretending that nothing happened. This is why Jesus repeats three times his question about love. The same mouth belonging to Peter that not long ago professed “I do not know Him”, now repeats: “Yes, You know that I love You.” You know... I do not have any more illusions, I learned my weakness well, but you know better than I, how things really are...
After Jesus' next question Peter felt hurt. Doubltess he realized that the three questions are a subtle way of healing his weakness. It seems that there is also another reason for Peter's sadness. In this scene, there are two verbs present designating love: agapao and fileo. Some regard them just as synonyms, but many emphasize a difference: the first of them speaks of the highest form of love, ready for the greatest sacrifices; while the second designates great kindness, a willingness to please, affection. Jesus twice asks Peter, using the form: agapas me?, and Peter replies: fileo, as if indicating that he does not yet live up to this greatest love. The third time Jesus seemingly descends to the Peter's level and asks: fileis me?
For us, this is very comforting: even if we are unable to reach for the highest love, Jesus accepts that which we are capable of giving Him, to the best of our abilities. He always loves us with the greatest love, but knows our weakness and constraints. And despite this, he still calls us, still entrusts us with a mission. “Tend my sheep”... Care for those that I entrust to you, whom I will place on your path. Do not use them, do not take advantage of them for your own benefit, these are My sheep. Be a shepherd like the Good Shepherd. Until the end.
Proposed questions for discussion:
1.What is the truth about me and my weaknesses? When I fall, am I capable of giving myself another chance, just like God does for me, or perhaps, after failures, do I come back to what is familiar and safe, just like Peter coming back to the fishing boat?
2.Am I able to discern what God is doing for me to heal me? Do I know how to thank Him for this, or do I always think about the past?
3.How does my faith translate into my relationships with others? Do I see in everyone a person, for whom Christ gave his life?
Time for personal reflection
May you be adored, Lord, in all things that will be the fruit of our common prayer. May you be adored in persons, to whom we will carry the Good News of Your Infinite Mercy. May you be glorified in everyone preparing for a good experience of World Youth Day. Mericful God, help us on the paths of our lives and continually turn us back to You. Grant us, already on this earth, to taste the sweetness of Your forgiveness and through this prayer to come closer to meeting with You, face to face in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Translated by Thomas Harbeck