Simon, son of John, do you love me?

The 3rd Sunday of Easter
Year C
John 21:1-23

Jesus asks Simon Peter a question: "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" 

These what? you (or Peter) might ask? More than this life represented by the treasured items of a fishermans trade scattered around on the beach these nets, these spools of braided line, these floats?  Or do you love me more than these other disciples love me? You, Peter, pre-eminent among my followers - do you love me more than these others do?

The same question arising between a man and a woman or between a parent and a child could be playful. Perhaps, though, it probes at some perceived weakness.

Do you love me (of course you do)
Do you love me (I want to hear you say it)
Do you love me (I suspect that you do not)
Do you love me (I wonder if you know what that means)

Some affirmations, then:

1. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than these he was probably referring to the other disciples gathered with them on the beach that day.

2. He asks the question three times because Peter had denied him three times and

3. That when he asked Peter whether or not he loved him he was wondering if Peter knew what that meant and where such love would lead him.

Because it is not clear that we know what love means.  Jesus tells Peter that love for Jesus must result in health, and life and love for the world.  If you love me - feed my sheep.  He (and we) now have our second chance - to make up for past betrayals and long established patterns of coldness and diffidence to the world around us.  This is Easter.  It's a new day.  Life and love can begin again.

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