3rd Sunday of Easter (Fr. Simham)

by | May 2, 2022

Today’s Gospel is one of the post-Resurrection appearances reported by John. Recall that in John’s Gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary of Magdala, second to all of the disciples except Thomas, and finally to Thomas and the disciples (which we heard last Sunday).  in today gospel Jesus’ call to Simon Peter and the other fishermen as well as the miraculous catch of fish. The end of the chapter, where Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves him,  

Last week we heard that Jesus appeared to the gathered disciples in a locked room, probably in Jerusalem. In today’s Gospel, the disciples are no longer in Jerusalem; they are in Galilee, returning to their work of fishing. Simon Peter is still presented in the role of leader: when he announces that he is going fishing, the other disciples follow. They spend the night fishing but are unsuccessful.

Jesus calls to them from the shore, but just as when Jesus first appeared to Mary of Magdala, the disciples do not recognize him immediately. Still, they follow the stranger’s instructions and bring in a large haul of fish. It is at this point that one of the disciples (the “disciple whom Jesus loved”) realizes that Jesus is appearing to them. Upon hearing this news, Simon Peter leads the way again, jumping from the boat and swimming to shore. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the fish.

Three times in today’s Gospel Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  And three times Peter responds, “Lord you know I love you.”   Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me with the highest form of love?”  And Peter responds, “Lord I love you with ordinary love.”  Disappointed Jesus tries a second time.  “Simon, son of John, do you love me with the highest form of love. Peter responds again, “Lord, I love you with ordinary love.”  By this time it has become clear to Jesus that although he is asking the highest form of love from Peter what Peter is offering in return is only ordinary love.  This sets the context for the important lesson that is present in this Gospel.  Jesus asks a third time, and this time he does not use the word agape.  This time he uses Peter’s word for love.  A third time Jesus says, “Simon, son of John, so you love me with ordinary love?” And Peter says, “Lord you know all things, you know that’s the way I love you.”  Then Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”

in this gospel we see that  Jesus did not bother with Peter’s past failures. Why? Because for Jesus love is not only forward looking but also constantly challenges the person to outdo himself.

Jesus constantly asks us the same question, “Do you love me more than these?” Given this, do we like Peter answer “yes” despite all our inadequacies and sins? Or rather, in spite of them as they will be with us for the rest of our life? We should. And when we do so wholeheartedly, we will discover that after our every “yes,” Jesus will continue to invite us to follow Him more closely until the time comes when we do so not out of a moment’s impulse but out of love — as Peter did till his martyrdom. Amen.

Fr. Showreelu Simham