Third Sunday of Easter
April 10, 2016
Fr. José Maria Cortex, F.S.C.B.
Sunday Reading Meditations
Three times in today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15–17).
Jesus is thirsty for our love. He wants our answer.
In these three questions, we can see the three stages of our lives: childhood, adulthood and old age.
When Jesus asks Peter for the first time, it is easy to say: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” When we are children, our love for Jesus is immediate and intuitive. When I ask the children in the catechism class if they love Jesus, they immediately say yes without hesitation. They do not need to think. Their hearts speak immediately. They know that Jesus is everything. I have never met a child who had to stop and think about the question.
When Jesus asks Peter for the second time, there is a moment of silence, a slight hesitation, because Peter remembers the night of his denial, when he said that he did not know Jesus. Generally, when I ask adults if they love Jesus, the answer does not arrive as promptly as it does with children. Adults usually stop and think: some take more time and some less but there is a pause. Why does this happen? In adulthood, many different interests, projects and ambitions have places in our hearts. At many moments in our adult life, we consider other things more important than Jesus. Peter denied Jesus because he was trying to defend himself, his image. He was more concerned with what others could think about him than what Jesus thinks. In adulthood, life seems to be more real than Jesus. What we love and what we do seem to have more immediacy than Jesus. Many times, he is someone very vague, someone whom we only think about when we come to Mass.
Peter stopped to think and then he said: “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” The pause shows that Peter needed to find the reasons for his love of Jesus. In adulthood, our faith has to be rooted in reasons. The catechesis received in childhood is not enough. In adulthood, faith and reason have to be conjoined. It is a tragedy that so many Catholic adults are childish in their faith.
The third question is the decisive one. The Gospel says: “Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’” Peter has to conquer the grief in his heart that prevents him from loving Jesus. In old age, there are many griefs that could prevent us from loving Jesus. It is easy for the weight of life, losses and disillusionments to become more important than our love of Jesus. Skepticism and bitterness are the great risks of old age. However, today’s Gospel shows us that the “grievances” of old age can be conquered by the power of Jesus’ love: “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17).
Dear brothers and sisters, wherever we are in our lives, let us allow our love of Jesus to become the center of our lives. Amen.
Sunday Reading Meditations