Friday, June 2, 2017

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.

“I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: ‘You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him.’ It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand.” -  Mother Teresa: (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity)

Gospel Text: (JN 21:15-19)
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

We all remember how Peter’s lowest moment in the narrative of the Passion comes when he denies being a member of Jesus’ associates, and even of knowing Jesus personally. The denials of Peter while waiting in the shadows to see what will happen to Jesus as he is under Herod’s interrogation come back to haunt him when Jesus takes him aside, after the post-Resurrection appearance at the Sea of Galilee, and he is asked three times whether he loves Jesus.

While we may wish to see this as a call of Jesus to repentance, it is first of all a sign of Jesus’ redemptive power already at work. It is not the same Peter who stood in the shadows of the courtyard, fearing for his own life that responds to Jesus’ three-fold question. It is a renewed and exuberant Peter who has already felt the reconciling grace of Jesus’ resurrection. This sequence of events: Peter’s failure and betrayal; the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross; the Resurrection; and the experience of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus’ presence among them…tell us that Jesus is not one to exact a price for our redemption. Jesus gratuitously and with his own initiative goes out to meet the Apostles, and Peter most of all. He does not impose a period of penance or set a standard for meriting forgiveness. Jesus looks Peter in the eyes and simply asks, “do you love me?”

What an example for the Church today; indeed, for each one of us, today! No matter our fault or failure, Jesus looks us in the eyes and simply asks, “do you love me?”

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