“Do you love me?” What a very difficult question to ask of another. Asking it implies that we are unsure if we are loved. We risk asking this question for fear that - the love that burns within our hearts for the other - may not be reciprocated: That we are not loved, as we love, that we are not worthy of the love we want, need or desire.
Just in asking this question, “Do you love me?” we show that in the other, we do not see or sense our love returned. There is uncertainty in what we feel from the other. There is fear that our exposed feelings, our very center of self – offered up to the other – will be greeted with indifference or worse – rejected.
I cannot think of a more despairing, painful feeling – than to feel unloved. Our humanness is so intricately connected in our need to love and be loved. We thrive on love. Our world without love is a bleak and dreary place – lonely, desolate and sad.
Before the crucifixion, death and resurrection of our Lord - Three times Peter rejects our Lord in his time of most need.
· Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus.
· Three times Peter denies following Jesus.
· Three times Peter denies loving Jesus
In his fear Peter denies love; leaving his world lonely, desolate and sad.
Now on the lakeshore, as Jesus appears to his disciples, for the third time since his resurrection, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
Jesus asks this very difficult question, not because he senses that his love of Peter is not returned or that he is unsure of Peter’s love for him, but because he knows everything. Peter’s third response recognizes Jesus’s primacy when he says, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus asks Peter this question not for himself, but for all of us – for all humanity! He asks for each one of us, so we too recognize the heart of Jesus. In each of his three responses, the love in Peter’s heart grows. His heart begins to love with the heart of Jesus, a love for all.
· Peter is the Rock
· Peter is the one chosen
· Peter is to lead the church after Jesus ascends into heaven
Peter’s heart, as does each of our hearts, needs to grow in love with the heart of Jesus - with a very different love – not a selfish, self-serving love that seeks love in return, but – a love that feeds, that tends, that loves completely all others.
This is not a passive love, but an active – living love, - a love of participation, - a love that asks nothing in return;
· does not count the cost
· is given freely,
· without hesitation, reservation or condition
It is the love of God, the love brought into the world through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the love of Holy Spirit that fills each of us with a burning desire of love - for all of God’s children.
Jesus calls each of us to this love. He asks each of us, “Do you love me?” Not because he seeks our love in return, but because he wants each of us to love with his heart – all our brothers and sisters. We answer Jesus through our action, our participation, our loving - one another as we: feed his sheep, tend his flock, and love with His heart.
So, do not be afraid to love with the love of Jesus. Do not fear to answer his question, “Do you love me?” Do not deny knowing the Lord, but answer like Peter - with courage in our heart, saying, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you!”
Then let us live out our love of Jesus - as we feed his lambs and tend his sheep – love everyone with His heart.
Deacon Don Ron