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The Good News for the day, May 18, 2018

Friday in the Seventh Week of Easter (301)

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon Johnson, do you love me more than the rest?” Simon Peter answered, “Yes, Sir, you know that I do love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon Johnson, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Sir, you know that I do love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon Johnson, do you love me?” Peter was upset that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Sir, you know everything; you know for certain that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. The truth is that when you were younger, you would dress yourself and go wherever you wanted to go. When you get old, you will put out your arms, someone else will put your clothes on you and take you where you don’t want to go.” (Jesus was saying this to indicate what kind of death he would suffer to point people to God [‘glorify’ God]). And when Jesus had said all this, he told him, “Follow me.” (John 21)

What is this ritual-like little conversation all about? Is it Jesus asking you—like Simon, someone with sinful failures and your denials in your history—“but do you REALY love me?” Or can we picture a smiling Jesus, laughingly teasing his friend, “Yeah, Simon, come on—do you REALLY love me?” Or is it a truly serious question Jesus is asking: “After all this, in the end, do you care for me—are you in it for some other reason or: do you REALLY love me?”

But perhaps it is the thing that we hear so often about what happens in marriages—and not so often experience—an expression of love that is a confession, a commitment, and an act of courage. Most adults know that—especially the first time—it is hard to admit “I love you.” (Now, we know Peter denied Jesus three times back there before the cock crowed on Good Friday—and, yes, that is part of it.)

But I suspect if you look at the first time you said or heard, “I really love you” addressed to a fellow adult—a fiancé, or a parent, or an adult child, or a friend through the years—there is something special. This conversation captures that moment—and lets you see a person saying this to Jesus—and is asking you for the same commitment, the same special moment (though the moment may be years long).

 “Do you love me?”   “Do YOU love ME?”

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