3rd Sunday of Easter - Year C
There are times in all of our lives when we long to have what is called a “do over”. This is a chance to take back something stupid we may have said or change an action that may have caused someone pain. It is very rare that these opportunities arise. In golf terms we would call these the “Mulligans”of life. (No offense to anyone named Mulligan). In today’s gospel reading there is one of the most beautiful passages about forgiveness and love that has ever been written down.
First a little of the back story: Simon, who had his name changed by Jesus Himself to Peter, (what we might translate as “Rocky”). This man and very close friend of Jesus told our blessed Lord that he would never deny Him or betray Him. “Not I! I would never do that”. Jesus then tells him that before the cock crows he will deny him three times. Do you remember that? Then later, afraid that he might be recognized and arrested, Peter denies our Lord three times. As we all know, and then the cock crowed. The reason I share this with you is because today’s gospel gives us the rest of the story. Jesus had been crucified, and reports were circulating that He had risen from the dead. Now imagine our friend Peter. He never got to tell Jesus that he was sorry for denying Him. Some historians say that early images of St. Peter depict him with such deep crevices by his eyes indicating how much he cried. Now he sees our Lord on the shore. He runs to Him unsure of what he could possibly say. Our Lord, knowing his heart cuts right to the quick and asks him point blank, “do you love me”? How these words must have struck home. Jesus asks him a total of three times if he loves Him.
Finally Peter doesn’t know how to answer any more. This was the man who denied three times and now is asked if he loves Jesus three times to make up for the denials. As a result, Peter is made in charge of Christ’s flock and entrusted to “feed the sheep and tend the lambs”. Thus Peter becomes our first leader and father in the Church. In Italian the term is Papa or what we call Pope. How cool is that! So if you have strayed from Jesus, maybe even denied Him or simply ran away from Him, use this passage of scripture to help you run to mercy itself, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ…May God richly bless you always…