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May 13, 2016

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

The good news for the Day

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, He says to Simon (Peter), “Simon Johnson, do you love (agape) me more than these other people?” Simon (Peter) answers him, “Yes, you’re in charge, you know that I love (philia) you.” Jesus says to him, “Feed my little lambs.” He says to him again, “Simon Johnson, do you love me?” He says to him, “now, you are above me, you know that I love you. He says to him: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21, 15-16)

You say, “I love you” in many ways. “I really like you,” is different from “I like you as a friend,” and still more different from, “I like having you as my boyfriend.” In some cases, it requires a huge effort to say, “I love you.” Other times, it is just part of the ordinary conversation.

What is the point here, the cheering up Good News?

You will recall that Peter had denied Jesus three times, and in this instance, Jesus is forgiving Peter without having a need to say the words—He is not preaching or broadcasting goodness. You and I fall into that trap, but most of the time, we just do—just do the good.

Let me suggest a deeper view: Jesus asks Simon—do you have “agape-love” for me—the generous, unselfish, and noble caring that asks for no gratitude. Peter answers, “I philia-love you”—the affectionate, mutual, and shared-life caring that binds relatives, football teammates, colleagues and Marines. Two kinds of love here. Jesus says, “Feed my little helpless ones”—that is how you transform a good noble love for others into a nobler, less mutual, less self-involving kind of love; you start caring for the neediest people around you. You help ungrateful lepers and occupying army officers, like Centurions, or people with demons—who ruin the economy. The Good News is that you now LIVE that kind of love.

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