Friday, 7th Week of Easter

            In today’s gospel reading, before Jesus commissions Peter to be a shepherd, he asks him a very important question. Three times Jesus asks Peter: “Simon, do you love me?” Three times Peter replies: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Three times Jesus commissions Peter: “Feed my lambs… Feed my sheep.”

            In other words, Jesus was telling Peter: “If you love me, then feed my sheep.” The point is: The best way to love Jesus is to love his sheep by feeding them. Love is the authentic sign of discipleship.

            The bottom line is this: The risen Lord wants our love… no matter what. He wanted Peter’s love, even though Peter denied him three times. He wants our love – whether we have been faithful or unfaithful, whether we have professed him or denied him, whether we have been strong or weak – no matter what!

            It is said that moral failures point to a collapse of love. Sinful behavior, selfish behavior, wrong behavior, immoral behavior, disobedient behavior… all reveal an imperfect love. Why do we fail to spend enough time in prayer? Why do we fail to deepen our faith? Why do we fail to show enthusiasm in our worship of God? Why do we fail to share our time, talent, and treasure? Why do we fail to leave our comfort zone to reach out to our neighbor and to serve in our community? One reason only: We are lacking in love. On the other hand, every moral triumph that happens in us indicates that our love for God is alive, real, and flourishing.

            Indeed, our love for God moves us, urges us, stimulates us. It leads us to prayer and communion; it moves us to service and ministry; it urges to be good stewards and mission partners of our parish; it prompts us to help the poor – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the neglected, and defend the weak. All this is a matter of love. That is why the Lord Jesus is asking each of us: “Do you love me?”

            What happens when we answer: “Yes, Lord, I love you.” What happens? Notice the final two words Jesus says to Peter: “Follow me.” I can follow Jesus only when I love him. I can be his disciple only when I love him. I can deny myself, take up my cross, and follow him only when I love him.

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