Can you think of a tie when you felt you had failed in your relationship with a friend, loved one or God? How did you feel? What did you need to do to restore those relationships?
Did you ever think you had done something that didn’t deserve a second chance?
As Peter stands before Jesus it is reasonable to presume that he is all too aware of his failure in regards to his denials of knowing Jesus. When Jesus meets with Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus focuses on his capacity to love, not on his failure. He does not condemn Peter for his betrayals. Instead Peter is reinstated, and given a great responsibility to care for the early Christian community.
Is this an issue for me? Do I focus on my failures instead of accepting that Jesus loves me as I am?
Jesus’ question, asked three times, echoes the three times Peter denied Christ. It may be hard to forgive, but can be harder to accept forgiveness. The ability to believe we are forgiven is crucial to our spiritual growth. This was the defining difference between Peter and Judas. Vacillating Peter went from the shame of his threefold denial of Christ to become the rock on which Christ’s church was founded. Judas could not contemplate the possibility of forgiveness. He, who had heard Christ say that one must forgive seventy times seven, could not bring himself to ask Christ to forgive him. Instead, he died in despair.
Have there been times in your life, when you felt like Peter, finding it hard to forgive yourself for disappointing Jesus? Have you ever felt like Judas, that you had done something that there was no coming back from?
What did you do? What can you do, to receive the forgiveness that Jesus offers? Peter, despite his failings, is chosen to continue the ministry of Jesus by humble service to others. Jesus gives you a ministry of service also. Are you aware of what Jesus is calling you to do? Do you carry it out even if it means pain?
If Jesus were to ask me, ‘Do you love me? ‘ how would I respond? Many women and men, down through the ages, have given their lives for Christ. How would I feel if I were asked to do the same? At the very least, how am I doing as a follower of Jesus in this time and in this place?
To be a disciple of Jesus, is to be asked the question often - “do you love me?” It is not that Jesus doubts us, but He wants us to recognize how we express that love. Guided by St. Ignatius, ask yourself this week. .. “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?