Picture yourself as Peter when Jesus asks you, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Jesus asks you further, "Do you know that I love you?" Wouldn't you respond by saying, "Lord, you know I love you. Thank you for coming back to me. I weep for the hurt and harm that I have sinfully inflicted on you and others. I failed you, but right now what I need most is your love. Comfort me and assure me of your love so that I can move on with my life."
Again Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? Do you love me with all your heart? Do you love me so that you also know my heart? My sheep are hungry, thirsty, and scattered. Some are in darkness lacking knowledge of who I am and what I have done to them. Do you really love me?" Wouldn't you reply and say, "Lord, you know I love you. I need your love to free me to pursue you. Love makes me wanting to feel and know your heart and mind. I want to hear your voice more closely. I want to share your thinking, your goals, and your motivations for doing things."
Third time Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? Do you love me and love your neighbor? Do you love them so as to leave the ninety-nine in search of the one who is lost? Do you love them that you will give the most loving thing you can offer and are willing to sacrifice everything you have for them?" Wouldn't you respond and say "Lord, you know I love you. I need your love to fill my heart, transform my mind, and free me to give myself in loving service to others."
Perhaps at the end of the day, Jesus still asks: "After all we have gone through, after all the experiences of pain and disappointment, do you love me? Even though the other day you let me down, even though your words have hurt me so much, do you love me?
The gospel today is an encounter of celebration, marked by tenderness and affection. Jesus would so much like to see you with a loving heart...he's not asking for plans, words or intentions - but for love. He wishes us to replace every denial, every sin, with a statement of our love for him. His question of "do you love me?" opens the door of love and caring, the door of understanding and belonging together, the door in which emotions count and affection is essential.
If you feel that you do not know how to love God, or how to feel God's love, it may help to ponder his question "Do you love me?" The love of God, being loved by God, loving God, is what gives our lives their shape and form, their texture and their fullness.
Fall In Love
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.