Reflection on John 21.15-19 (Easter 7: Friday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 7: Friday, 26 May 2023, on John 21.15-19

John 21.15-19

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.’ 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.’ 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 


Simon Peter said to Jesus: ‘… you know that I love you.’

I take my ministry to wedding couples very seriously. As men and women prepare to enter into a lifelong commitment to each other I do my best to help them understand the breadth and the depth of the vows they will publicly make to each other.

In today’s world many of the couples I marry have lived together for several years before deciding to enter into the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I often fear for these couples! As time has passed, and as the mundanities of daily life have crowded in, the words: I love you have either become a matter of routine, or a largely meaningless linguistic formula. The passage of time has emptied those words of meaning, as the need to ‘prove’ that love has receded.

One of the questions I often ask is about love: ‘How, when you say, ‘I love you’ to each other, do you know that you are talking about the same thing?’ In response to this question, I often hear about ‘talking and sharing’. I very rarely hear about the ‘cherishing’, the ‘having and holding’, or the ‘till death do us part’ moments. In fact, I often hear about two people who have come to take each other for granted.

In today’s reading Jesus asks Simon Peter, the one who denied him, about love. The disciple’s response is delivered with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders: ‘Of course I do!’ As Jesus persists in his questioning, we witness a rising tension in Peter’s petulant responses. But … Jesus wants more than the ‘right’ words; Jesus wants commitment and a willingness to allow love to grow.

Long, happy marriages are those that have been nurtured with an ever-deepening love. Long, fruitful discipleship is rooted, fed and nurtured in a similar willingness to love. Christ came into this world to demonstrate God’s love for humanity. Peter’s denial demonstrated our human propensity for getting things wrong. But, Jesus’ words to Simon Peter today show us that things can be put right … although we do have to be prepared to do more than offer a few fond platitudes.

Today we are being challenged to prove our love for Jesus by being Christ-like in all we say … and do!! Let us pray that our love for God may grow and grow, until the moment when we find ourselves in His nearer presence for eternity.