Meditation: The Lord Jesus asked Simon Peter and he asks each one
of us a very personal and profound question – do you love me more than anything
else that might be very dear to you? How can the love of Jesus Christ be
so attractive and so costly at the same time? Jesus on many occasions spoke
to his disciples about the nature of God's unquenchable love. God is love
(1 John 4:16) because he is the creator and source of all that is true love.
His love is unconditional, unmerited, and unlimited. We can't buy it, earn
it, demand it. It is a pure gift, freely given, and freely received. God's
love doesn't change or waver. It endures because is eternal and timeless.
It’s the beginning and the end – the purpose for which God created us and
why he wants us to be united with him in a bond of unbreakable love. And
it’s the essence of what is means to be a son or daughter of God the eternal
The Lord Jesus shows us that love is a personal choice and a gift freely
given – it is the giving of oneself to another person for their sake. Unselfish
love is oriented wholly to the good of the other person for their own welfare
and benefit. John the Evangelist tells us that "God so loved the world that
he gave us his only-begotten Son" (John 3:16) who took on human flesh for
our sake and who died upon the cross for our salvation – to set us free
from the power of sin so that we might receive abundant life that lasts forever.
God's love heals and transforms our lives and frees us from fear, selfishness, and greed. It draws us to the very heart of God and it compels us to give to him the best we have and all we possess – our gifts, our time, our resources, our full allegiance, and our very lives. Paul the Apostle tells us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given us (Romans 5:5). What can quench such love? Certainly fear, sin, pride, indifference, disbelief, and the loss of faith and hope.
Do you love me more than these?
Why did Jesus question Peter’s love and fidelity three times in front of the other apostles? It must have caused Peter great pain and sorrow since he had publicly denied Jesus three times during the night of Jesus' betrayal and condemnation by the Jewish authorities. Now Peter, full of sorrow and humility, unequivocally stated that he loved his master and was willing to serve him whatever it might cost. When Jesus asks him "do you love me more than these?" Jesus may have pointed to the boats, nets and catch of fish. He may have challenged Peter to abandon his work as a fisherman for the task of shepherding God's people. Jesus also may have pointed to the other disciples and to Peter's previous boast: "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away" (Matthew 26:33). Peter now makes no boast or comparison but humbly responds: "You know I love you."
The Lord Jesus calls each one of us, even in our weakness, sin, and failings,
to love him above all else. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) in his
Confessions wrote: "Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new.
Late have I loved you! ...You shone your Self upon me to drive away my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance upon me... and in astonishment I drew my breath...now
I pant for you! I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched
me! - and I burn to live within your peace" (Confessions 10:27).
Nothing but our own sinful pride and wilfulness can keep us from the love of God. He loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding graciousness and mercy towards us. Do you allow God's love to change and transform your life?
"Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and remove from it whatever is unloving, unkind, ungrateful, unholy, and not in accord with your will."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/