May 22, 2015
Friday, 7th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 24:27; 25:13–21
Gospel: Jn 21:15–19
After Jesus and his disciples had finished breakfast, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Look after my sheep.” And a third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus then said, “Feed my sheep. Truly, I say to you, when you were young you put on your belt and walked where you liked. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will put a belt around you and lead you where you do not wish to go.”
Jesus said this to make known the kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. And he added, “Follow me.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
English only has one translation for love. Greek has “agapan” and “philein” among two others. When Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” he was actually asking him different questions because he was using different words similarly translated in English as love.
When Jesus asked Peter this question the first time he used “agapan” loosely translated in English as “love”. In the writings of St. Paul, “agapan” refers to the love that man should have for God and the mutual love that human beings should have for one another. The benchmark of “agapan” is God’s love for humanity measured in the death of Christ to deliver man from sin (see Romans 5:8).
Peter answered in the affirmative. But he used the word “philien”. The question was, “Peter do you “agapan” me”? But the answer was, “Yes Lord, I “philein” you”. “Philein” is love of friendship such as the love of Jesus for Lazarus, Martha and Mary (Jn 11:3, 36). Peter was not responsive to the question of Jesus because the “philein” he used was lower than Jesus’ “agapan”. Jesus wanted Peter to die for him, but Peter could only love Jesus the way a friend does.
Then Jesus made a surprise descent to the level of Peter by using the word “philein”. It was a touching scenario that could have moved Peter to tears. Knowing that the only kind of love Peter was capable of was philein, Jesus went down to the level Peter so that from there he could take him up to the higher level of agapan. Proof that Peter reached this level later was when he died for Christ crucified up-side-down.
This gospel episode began measuring Peter’s love for Jesus but ended up affirming the depth and breadth of Jesus’ love for Peter and for humanity. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, grant us the grace to reciprocate your love for us by loving one another wholeheartedly. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen
SAINT OF THE DAY: ST. RITA OF CASCIA – Patroness of impossible cases. Her husband of violent temper repeatedly maltreated her but she endured his cruelty and never stopped praying for him. Her prayers did the impossible. Her husband repented and returned to the Lord before he died.